The Binghamton Devils’ second season is nearing completion that have showed signs of greatness, as well as inconsistencies that have put themselves behind the eight ball once again. After 57 games into 2018-’19, the BDevils have an overall record of 24-28-5-0 and are in last place in the North Division despite ending the 3rd Quarter at 9-8-2-0.
The team’s home record is 15-13-3-0 and on the road 9-15-2-0 but are far from making the playoffs as they closed out the quarter with a 4-1 victory on Saturday against the Utica Comets to end on a good note.
There was a trade as a pair of defenseman were swapped out when Michael Kapla was shipped to Minnesota for Ryan Murphy and that was it as far as player movements outside of some call-ups.
There is alot to go over so let’s get right to it!
There are ten members of ‘The Panel’ including myself, and in no particular order they are the following; @AliciaS20, @KeithAHopkins, @enker1700, @RogieVachon30, @crazybazookajoe, @EmilyRose474, @ChrisWasselDFS, @DuncanMRF, @swislosky and @Ski931.
Voting by the committee and player evaluations were based on the following five factors; Adaptability, Potential, Consistency, Production, & Vision.
Grades are calculated as a group and divided by the sum of its members. Season statistics will be shown collectively for each player for an ongoing comparison throughout the season in each quarter. Grading is also included by each individual member in their evaluations.
A+....96% - 100%
A......93% - 95.99%
A-.....90% - 92.99%
B+....87% - 89.99%
B......83% - 86.99%
B-.....80% - 82.99%
C+....77% - 79.99%
C......73% - 76.99%
C-.....70% - 72.99%
D+....67% - 69.99%
D......65.99% - 66.99%
Defense - 77.7 / C+, 75.82 / C, 78.62 / C+
We begin with the defense as they have allowed an average of 29.58 shots per game putting them in 18th place while giving up 3.42 goals (allowing 195) on average for a ranking at 28th. The PK is up three notches to 23rd at 79.6% out of 31 teams.
#2 Eric Gryba - 80.8 / B-, 73.8 / C, Inc.
(7 gms 0g 1a) (18 gms 1g 1a) (7 gms 1g 1a)
#3 *Tariq Hammond - 73.2 / C, 72.6 / C-, 73.9 / C
(8 gms 0g, 0a) (8 gms 0g 1a) (13 gms 1g 0a) Tariq Hammond has found his groove. He’s the unoffensive AHL defenseman Binghamton has seen many of; nothing impressive but nothing harmful, either. Earlier in the quarter, he ranked 2nd on the team in +/- which is a HUGE positive for a D-Man in the AHL. No longer does, due to a team-wide slump, but capped a solid Q3 off with his first pro goal. @crazybazookajoe (72, 74, 81)
#4 Ryan Murphy - 72.2 / C-
(7 gms 0g, 4a) Ryan Murphy joined the Devil organization at the end of January in a trade that saw Kapla moved out. He was an immediate step up to our defensive core without losing offensive production (4 assists since joining the team). You can tell Murphy is a veteran defenseman with his consistent play and his role on the powerplay. I’ve noticed our powerplay has improved since he has joined the BingDevils. Overall, I like this trade and I like what Murphy has brought to the team in such a short time. @AliciaS20 (73)
#5 *Colby Sissons - 78.5 / C+, 71.7 / C-, 69.8 / D+
(9 gms 0g, 2a) (14 gms 0g, 5a) (11 gms 2g 1a) Sissons cooled down after a better second quarter, only playing 10 games and 3 points since the beginning of January. The glimpses of offensive talent and poise that we saw at various points earlier in the year have become rarer, causing Sissons to make knee-jerk mistakes in high pressure situations. This streak of poorer play has led to reduced responsibility, and ultimately a trip to the ECHL. Sissons is a first year pro, playing a difficult position, and I think the timing is good for him to take a bigger role in a lesser league to build his confidence. I think this is a case of adjusting to the pace of play, and consistency of decision making, and that Sissons is still a candidate to grow throughout the rest of the season and into 2019/2020. @DuncanMRF (80, 75, 70)
#6 Colton White - 82.1 / B-, 75 / C, 79.5 / C+
(17 gms 2g 3a) (19 gms 3g 7a) (19 gms 1g 9a) Colton had an underwhelming year last year, but man this year he has picked it up. He scored 1 goal with 9 assists this quarter and is the highest scoring defenseman on the team. He already has career highs in goals, assists, and points. Recently he has been manning the first power play unit’s point. 4 of his 6 goals this year have been on the PP. @Ski931 (84, 73), @KeithAHopkins (74)
#7 Brian Strait - 69.5 / D+, Inc., Inc.
Update: Brian has resurfaced once again during practices with no contact attire. He has been out with a concussion suffered earlier on that has forced him to miss the majority of the season.
#8 Josh Jacobs - 85.7 / B, 83.7 / B, 83.2 / B
(18 gms 1g 3a) (18 gms 2g 3a) (16 gms 0g 3a) Has not been as good this quarter as he was the first two quarters. Not sure if it’s fatigue as he has been asked to play first pairing minutes or the league is “figuring him out.” I still have very high hopes for this kid who seems to be very coachable and is great off the ice. I still see him as NJ’s top defensive prospect who could be a solid 2nd pairing NHL guy. Keep working hard, Josh, I’m pulling for you. @enker1700 (90, 88, 88)
#32 Michael Kapla - 68.1 / D+, 69.4 / D+, Traded
#44 Egor Yakovlev - Inc., Inc., 86.5 / B
(10 gms 0g 8a - Total First Two Quarters) (9 gms 0g 8a) This guy has been going back and forth to NJ more than any player ever. With all his call-ups he only played 9 games this quarter but he factors into every one of those games. 8 assists this quarter and is just shy of a point/game pace for the season. I am not sure what NJ’s long term plans for Yak are, as he only signed a one-year deal. His offensive skill is never in question but he is still a mild liability in his own zone. @KeithAHopkins (84)
#55 John Ramage - 84.1 / B, 84.6 / B, 85.3 / B
(19 gms 2g 3a) (17 gms 4g 5a) (19 gms 1g 9a) He was a little more “quiet” this quarter in that I didn’t notice him. When it comes to a stay at home defenseman, I consider that a good thing. Has spent less time on the PP (Yakovlev and Murphy have seen more time there) and it seems to have helped. He has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise down season. Looking for him to be “status quo” for the final quarter of the season. @enker1700 (88, 88, 84)
Offense - 79.3 / C+, 79.94 / C+, 77.12 / C+
BDevils’ PP is also up three notches to 25th at 16.3%, while the offense scored at an average of 2.75 per game (157) and in 25th position. Shots placed the club down in the 29th slot at an average of 27.14 per outing out of 31 clubs in the league.
#9 *Michael McLeod - 84.8 / B , 89.3 / B+, 80.4 / B-
(18 gms 3g 5a) (17 gms 2g 11a) (17 gms 1g 9a) McLeod isn’t as much a dynamo this quarter as he was last quarter, and while still is a solid prospect is not ready for the NHL. I still stand by my statement of giving him another year in the AHL. He managed to pull something amazing off to start the quarter that took the whole Panel by surprise; he helped make a line with tough guy Brandon Baddock and power forward Nathan Bastian a viable thing. @crazybazookajoe (85, 91, 82)
#10 *Ryan Schmelzer - 80.3 / B-, 82.5 / B-, 77.1 / C+
(12 gms 2g 3a) (16 gms 4g 0a) (19 gms 3g 0a) Does an adequate job as a roster fill-in that will not seem likely to get a call-up knowing he’s on an AHL contract only. Is replaceable but more than likely will remain in Binghamton to ride out the season. Has shown some grit and grinds it out but lacking any resemblance of finesse with the puck. @Ski931 (86, 82, 77)
#13 Brandon Baddock - 75.2 / C, 71.8 / C-, 68.9 / D+
(12 gms 1g 1a) (17 gms 0g 1a) (19 gms 1g 4a) Baddock still garners penalty minutes but any offense has been very little over the last quarter. He does little things well enough. However, this cements him into a fourth line / extra type of role with Binghamton. Baddock’s ice time inched up a little bit in that last quarter. The left winger continues to be a serviceable AHL player. It would be nice to see him hit the net with his shot a bit more. @ChrisWasselDFS (70, 70, 65)
#15 Nick Saracino - Inc., 67.6 / D+
(22 gms 3g 3a - Total Through Two Quarters) Joined the team in the latter stages of the 2nd Quarter and earned himself an AHL contract after his PTO expired. Some regular playing time in the 3rd mostly as a fourth liner with Baddock and Speers. I don’t have 2nd Quarter stats at the later stages as I didn’t expect him to survive and still be with the team. But, he has and will most likely last through the 4th Quarter as well. @Ski931 (67)
#17 John Quenneville - 89 / B+, 88.9 / B+, 87.5 / B+
(12 gms 4g 6a) (7 gms 5g 4a) (13 gms 7g 4a) Quenneville continued to make strides with Binghamton. He missed some time due to injury, produced around two shots a game, and nearly a point a contest. With the minor league club, Quenneville logs big minutes and is at least starting to learn from some of his mistakes. One wonders at what point does New Jersey call Quenneville back up. This is so he can work on applying what he was learned to the NHL level. The forward tends to be more of a tweener at this stage as he continues to work on fundamentals. @ChrisWasselDFS (79, 92, 90)
#18 Blake Speers - 75.4 / C, 66.8 / D, 66.4 / D
(15 gms 1g 0a) (17 gms 1g 2a) (11 gms 1g 3a) Speer’s season odyssey continues. On the “positive” side, it was Blake’s most productive scoring quarter. I can’t say for certain if he’s had a couple of injuries to deal with or has been a healthy scratch. Minutes are low, as he is used as a fourth line center & PKer when in the lineup. I incorrectly stated he was a first round pick (he was a 3rd) last quarter. You hate to give up on a guy, but so many have passed him on the depth chart, I think a change of scenery would be best for him heading into the last year of his ELC. @RogieVachon30 (68, 71, 64)
#19 Blake Pietila - 71.5 / C-, 77.2 / C+, 84.3 / B
(18 gms 5g 5a) (16 gms 7g 5a) (9 gms 4g 9a) For the 3rd quarter Blake has battled some injuries and also had a call-up to NJ. He sits atop the B-Devils points leader board with 35 for a career high. He seems to be one of the few players to improve from last year. Blake needs to work on his defensive game quite a lot if he wants to make the NHL. @Ski931 (72) @KeithAHopkins (77, 87)
#21 Kevin Rooney - 83.2 / B, 84.9 / B, Inc.
(13 gms 0g 3a) (19 gms 1g 13a) (6 gms 0g 0a)
#22 *Egor Sharangovich - 79.6 / C+, 81.9 / B-, 76.1 / C
(15 gms 2g 3a) (18 gms 4g 1a) (17 gms 2g 2a) Throughout the year we have seen glimpses of his potential through plays that emphasize his size, skill close to the net, and aggressiveness. I’ve enjoyed watching him adjust to the North American game, and while his ideal trajectory would have seen him settle into a middle six role in his first pro year, consistency in role, deployment, and line mates will do him good as the season plays out. One thing that I love seeing, that speaks to his talent, is when a power forward can play his game cleanly. Despite his slow production so far, I believe that he will take a middle six role as soon as next season. @DuncanMRF (82, 88, 80)
#25 Nick Lappin - 83.3 / B, 80.9 / B-, 71.8 / C-
(19 gms 9g 2a) (12 gms 1g 3a) (14 gms 6g 6a) He started the season on fire with 5 goals in 5 games, including two on Opening Night but since then has cooled off. His down fall is that he has to be more physical and he has to back-check alot better. Did not help he was up with the big club for a while as he just does not have it this year. He was injured for a bit too, but I got a feeling he won’t be back next year. It’s a shame as Lappin went from a 32 goal scorer last year to not scoring as much. I hope he picks it up for the final two months of the season. @swislosky (82, 79, 72) (Editor’s Note: These grades were completed before this past weekend games where Lappin recorded 4 goals and 1 assist due to time restraints. His grade would perhaps reflect differently if in real time.)
#26 Eric Tangradi - 81.5 / B-, 84 / B, 77.1 / C+
(9 gms 2g 5a) (5 gms 2g 2a) (16 gms 3g 3a) Obviously a down season for an otherwise very gifted NHL talent player. Injuries have definitely played a part in his numbers being down, but he has definitely not lived up to expectations of himself coming into the season. He is definitely an outstanding human being and I can’t help but pull for him to get better. I see him as our version of Aaron Judge; if he gets hot (starts playing as expected) he is good enough to hitch our wagons to and maybe, hopefully, squeeze into the playoffs. @enker1700 (82, 84, 75)
#27 *Marian Studenic - 86.2 / B, 85.6 / B, 82.6 / B-
(18 gms 7g 5a) (12 gms 2g 6a) (18 gms 3g 3a) Marian’s lowest point output quarter, and he did dip into negative territory for the season in +/- (Just -3 for the year). But, I do not believe he has hit a wall as many rookies do this time of the season. He is still skating hard, doesn’t avoid the corners, and isn’t afraid to shoot. I think reaching 20Gs will be out of the question mostly because the team lacks anything resembling a play-making center. He also gets zero PP time, which I find a bit of a headscratcher seeing Coach MD usually uses 4 forwards on both PP units. I like this kid, but believe he needs another full year in the AHL to build both his body and his game. @RogieVachon30 (91, 82, 82)
#28 Brandon Gignac - 77.3 / C+, 82.5 / B-, 75.2 / C
(15 gms 2g 4a) (18 gms 4g 8a) (18 gms 3g 7a) The 21 year-old has an eye for passing and can absolutely burn rubber. Bar none the fastest player on the B-Devils. His biggest thing to work on over the summer will be building some muscle as he’s still easy to derail with his size. While I’m still skeptical that he could hold his own in the NHL, the progress he has made is at least worth a look down the line. Did I mention he’s fast? @crazybazookajoe (77, 80, 91)
#28 Nikita Popugaev - Inc.
(5 gms 0g 0a)
#39 Kurtis Gabriel - 73.1 / C, 69.4 / D+, Inc.
(11 gms 1g 2a) (16 gms 1g 2a) (5 gms 0g 0a)
#42 Nathan Bastian - 73.1 / C, 81 / B-, 87.6 / B+
(18 gms 4g 1a) (19 gms 4g 3a) (19 gms 9g 2a) I didn’t see him scoring alot as he’s more out there for being physical and he’s living up to that with 13 hits so far this season. His back checking is better than last year using his 6’ 4” frame to good use and can mix it up if he has to. Bastian has been more physical and his forchecking has been very good. Great stretch for him in scoring from Jan 9 to Feb 23 as he complements Tango and McLeod. I hope Coach Dennehy keeps that line in tact. He’s earned his call up and we won’t see him next season for he’ll be up in NJ I believe. @swislosky (74, 84, 88)
Emily’s Goalie Clinic
Goalies - 82.7 / B-, 86.9 / B, 85.3 / B
At the end of the second quarter, it seemed as though Cam Johnson was our only reliable, consistent goaltender moving forward. Then the third quarter began, Johnson was called up and Evan Cormier came to town within the first week. Plagued with inconsistency in terms of who played between the pipes each night, there was still some positives to the goaltending play.
#1 Evan Cormier - 84.2 / B
(7 gms 4-1-0-1, 2.02 GAA 0.934 SV%) Though Cormier’s starting time with the BDevils was short-lived, I would be remiss to skip over him in my reviews. The young player stepped into a massive role that, in all honesty, no one pictured him having this year. He came into each game he played poised and with a skill that seemed well beyond his years. The team seemed to rally behind the young netminder, helping him to post a few impressive wins in a row. Though he’s since taken a much smaller role with the team, even being sent to Adirondack for a stint, he was a bright point early on in the quarter. @EmilyRose474 (85)
#29 Mackenzie Blackwood - 85.2 / B, 90.1 / A-, 90.3 / A-
(20 gms 8-10-1-1, 2.95 GAA 0.902 SV%) Getting Blackwood back this quarter proved to be a nice boost for the team. It cannot be overstated how far the goalie has come over the past year. Mac continues to move with ease and remains poised in net, even with his size and age. When he gets beat, he has to be careful not to give up similar goals as the opposing team often picks up on his weaknesses. When given the opportunity, they look to repeat the pattern. That said, when he’s able to bounce back quickly after letting in a goal, he’s often able to keep the puck out. Blackwood is an excellent prospect in the system and will, without a doubt, be up with New Jersey again in no time. @EmilyRose474 (86, 89, 91)
#31 Eddie Lack - 80.3 / B-, Inc, Inc.
(6 gms 2-3-1-0, 4.10 GAA 0.863 SV%)
#33 Cam Johnson - 83.7 / B, 81.4 / B-
(19 gms, 8-10-1-1, 3.54 GAA 0.878 SV%) Seeing a bit of a slip in his performance since his call-up and being rotated to a back-up position, Cam has flown a little under the radar this quarter. That said, when he does play, he displays great skill. He tends to rely on rebounds and, with our weaker defense, it hasn’t led to the best stat-line for the netminder. Still showing promise, ability, and skill, he will continue to be an asset to the Devils moving forward. @EmilyRose474 (85, 80)
Coach’s Corner with Dave
Coaching Staff - 82.6 / B-, 79 / C+, 72.6 / C-
“One thing New Jersey had impressed me with since coming to town is if you earned a spot, you got it, regardless of contracts or where you were on a depth chart.”
Mark Dennehy, Sergei Brylin & Ryan Parent
Although the record was statistically the season’s best, a couple decisions from behind the bench make me wonder if it could have been better. The special teams continue to plod along, albeit both are clear of the basement. They have finally all but abandoned the hideous drop pass entry, and let their team speed do the work. The numbers are below average because of a lack of a true playmaking (and faceoff winning) center. As we continue to struggle with the infraction fouls, the team has been shorthanded the second most times in the league, and on average is giving up just under a goal a game while shorthanded. That’s tough to overcome in this era of diminished scoring.
Coach Brylin however has done a great job with Colton White, who in my mind is far and away the most improved player on the team. I’ve had some job related business downtown since the calendar turned, and I’ve been able to take in a practice or two per week. Assistant coach Ryan Parent pretty much runs the drills (and participates from time to time) while Coach MD & Coach Brylin are on ice offering pointers and running chalk talks during breaks. Parent is prepared, has the players attention, and I can see him running his own bench some day.
One thing New Jersey had impressed me with since coming to town is if you earned a spot, you got it, regardless of contracts or where you were on a depth chart. I point to Gibbons and Coleman last year, & Seney and Rooney this year. However, it doesn’t seem to apply to goaltending, and the overall goaltending “strategy” of Coach MD.
The team started out Q3 with a season-high four straight wins, all from 6th string goalie Evan Cormier, and moved to a game under hockey .500. What does Coach MD do? He refuses to go with the hot hand, plays Johnson the next two games starting a 1-4-2 tumble back to playoff irrelevance. Thanks for playing Evan, here is a bus ticket back to Glens Falls. Teams feed off their goaltender, and the sample size was much too small to know if it would have made a difference, but we’ll never know.
Finally, and this is coming from 40+ years watching this league, is why the goaltenders are handled with kid gloves? Blackwood was sent here on Feb. 3 to play. Granted the schedule has only provided seven games in three weeks, but NJ should be demanding he play in six. These are kids in their twenties, they can play back to backs when there is no travel involved. They’ve done it in juniors or college.
We’re a last-place team, the results of the games don’t matter at this point. Bakersfield has won 16 straight right now in the AHL. Have the games been split 8/8 among the two keepers? Of course not, the starter has played 13 of them. Belleville has vacated the North division cellar on the strength of a 15 game unbeaten streak where Marcus Hogberg has started seven straight games (oh my!). I’m not advocating a Brodeur-like 70+ itinerary for anyone, but if Kinkaid isn’t dealt & Schneider remains healthy/viable, then Blackwood should get 15 of the remaining 20 starts left on Bingo’s schedule. @RogieVachon30 (84, 79, 70)
Thanks for reading and paying attention to what has been transpiring in the minors. And with that, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the section below so we all can share!
* = Rookie status
Inc. = Incomplete