It is once again my (now annual) task to present my entirely subjective grades and evaluation of each Seawolves player. So without any long winded build up (except to say there's no long winded build up) here they are in order by jersey number:
#3 Wes McLeod - B+
Wes came onto the Seawolves squad with a pretty nice junior hockey pedigree and I think he played very well this season. He contributed on the scoring side and showed lots of other flashes of offensive upside; his skating and stick skills. On the defensive side of the puck he was solid as well. Not to say that Wes played mistake free hockey ... he didn't. But no more than any other freshman WCHA defenseman. Confidence on the ice is going to be the key to next season for Wes. And ... he's got a cannon of a shot too.
#5 Justin Kirchhevel - C++
I can't say I disliked anything about Justin's play this season. In fact, I think he's got a boatload of potential to become an impactful player. You can't teach anticipation. His two goals in his first game weren't the only chances he had in his 8 appearances. If the challenges that kept him out of so many games (and it doesn't matter what they are) can be positively rectified then Justin will only get better and more productive. I also liked his grittiness.
#7 Brett Cameron - B
Brett was about <--> that close to scoring twice as many goals as his 4 this season. And he's a very capable scorer. Brett figures to be one of the top two line forwards coming into next season. He's energetic and effective offensively. Shoot the puck more Brett. Here's an Puck Daddy article from Justin Bourne about it. Do that.
#8 Scott Warner - A
Scott did have the lowest plus/minus rating on the team but the truth is that his presence on the ice defensively was invaluable. So there's a case where you can surely say fuck the plus/minus numbers. Scott was very effectively defensively and also showed offensive upside with some smart rushes here and there. Scott was a really smart and mature blueliner throughout the season.
#9 Mark Pustin - B
Mark is a speedy and dynamic forward looking for a situation. Mark was an effective role player this season but had only a few real chances to play "his game". With the influx of both playmaking and scoring forwards next season there'll be lots of chances for Mark to find some chemistry. He seems like a good fit to me as a possible penalty killing short-handed goal scorer next season. Or something ... Mark will have to carve himself a niche.
#10 Mickey Spencer - B-
Mickey had a bit of a suck sophomore season from his perspective I bet. He only got in 13 games and it seemed like some portion of those were just because he was unable to crack the lineup. As suck as all that must have been, he sure put some sweet icing on that spiceless cake at the end of the season didn't he?
#11 Curtis Leinweber - A+
No offense should be taken by anyone if I call Curtis the best player on the team. So.I.am. That's why he gets an A+. He did it all this season. On both ends of the ice. In every situation. He could be counted on to lead a scoring rush and depended on to block a short. He killed penalties, skated on the power play and just generally made the game fun to watch.
#12 Mitch Bruijsten - A-
Mitch blew up a bit this season. After 2 goals and 4 assists as a freshman he potted 9 goals and added 8 assists. He was the highest scoring sophomore on the squad. He was the only forward other than Tommy Grant with multiple game winning goals. He blossomed somewhat ... like a Tulip in the spring?
... Figure Mitch for the inside track at being that forward that can clear room and act as a target for two other playmaking scorers next season.
#13 Quinn Sproule - B
Quinn dressed for 32 games this season and was a virtual fixture on the blueline. He showed poise and smarts at times as well as an ability to move the puck up the ice. As I noted with Wes McLeod, being a WCHA rookie defenseman and making a mistake here and there are par for the course. Maturity and the confidence that comes with that will be tools for Quinn to use to continue to secure maximum playing time. Lots of growth potential here.
#14 Craig Parkinson - A+
No justification needed for this grade. Craig couldn't have achieved a higher grade. He did everything he needed to earn that grade and so much more.
#15 Brad Gorham - A-
The extra penalty minutes gotta go. Yes, Brad had a bit of a target painted on his back by WCHA referees this year. But even with that unequal treatment he committed some unnecessary penalties. Other than that ... there's nothing to complain about in Brad's game really. He's responsible in his own end and smart about distributing the puck and/or leading a rush. He's got poise with the puck on his stick as well.
#16 Tommy Grant - A+
I don't have to say why. It's obvious. A friggin plus ...
#17 Jordan Kwas - A-
Score more goals. Don't quit setting up other players ... the 20 assists were the bomb. But yeah, pop some more in. Jordan is quick, smart and surprisingly strong on the puck in traffic. He's dynamic and unselfish. He could score more goals. He should score more goals. Um ... I'm betting he will score more goals.
#18 Chris Crowell - B+++
Chris gets a B for his effectiveness on the ice. He is strong physical presence when he's on the ice. He isn't nor is he likely to ever be called upon to score. He get's the +++ for all the leadership he provides off the ice.
#19 Nick Haddad - A+
We'll miss ya Nick. Well done. Nuff said ...
#20 Alex Gellert - A-
Alex's offensive stats warrant a B+ as I believe he should have buried a couple more goals than he did. But his play on the defensive side of the ice brings the overall grade up. Alex could be important on the draw next season as the Seawolves will need someone to replace all the face-off wins that Parky stole. Alex should also have a bit of an inside track at one of the top six forward spots to begin the season.
#21 Matt Bailey - A
Matt showed his potential in his rookie season with a very fine 10 goals and 10 assists. After this season Matt is what I'd call a very well rounded hockey player. He is effective no matter what he is asked to do. Next season, he has every potential to be this teams leading scorer.
#22 Drew Darwitz - B-
In two seasons Drew was unfortunately unable to consistently work his way into the lineup. He was better than just adequate in his appearances this season and played particularly well in the last games of the season.
#23 Luka Vidmar - A+
Yep. All the departed Seniors get an A+. It's how it works.
#26 Tyler Currier - A-
Tyler carved himself an excellent niche on the blueline over the course of the season. His energetic play at forward could have been valuable but his stellar defensive play and ability to fill that role when asked was nothing short of tremendous. He didn't just fill in on the blueline. He excelled. And it appeared to me that he got more confident in the role. Good, he should have gotten more confident. Grittiness appreciated too.
#27 Sean Wiles - A+
You guessed it didn't you?
#28 Andrew Pickering - I+
On January 21st, Andrew took a puck to the ear against DU (a slapshot mind you) that split his ear darn near in half. He only appeared in 8 games but things seemed to be looking up in terms of ice time. Incomplete + just means he deserves something for having his freaking ear exploded.
#33 Rob Gunderson - B+
Rob's butterfly style sometimes leaves him vulnerable to getting beat over the shoulder. As he matures he'll naturally learn to stand his ground and challenge shooters. He's got a good glove and is athletic. He handles the puck well. Patience and continued good defensive play in front of Rob will aid his development.
#35 Chris Kamal - B+
Chris has a bit of the same vulnerability to getting beat high when he takes away the ice with his butterfly style. He also has a good glove and is athletic. He more actively handles the puck than Rob. Patience and continued good defensive play will aid his development. I'm expecting both guys will share the duty next season.
#36 Jade Portwood - A+
Jade is only the 2nd returning player I've given an A+. There is one reason for that. He is a workhorse. Or the workhorse. Yeah, the is better than a. From eating up time deep in the opponents zone on a penalty kill, to blocking multiple shots in a shift, to rolling through a cycle and breaking off the wall for a scoring chance ... Jade does it all and he's doing it all the time. He's missed more glorious scoring chances over his career than he's finished. But he's not finished yet.
#38 Dusan Sidor - A+
Because there isn't a successful hockey team anywhere that doesn't have a guy like Dusan. This A+ is not just for him. It's for all those guys.
#40 Daniel Naslund - B
Daniel came a long way in his skating from last year to this season. He's learned to shorten his initial strides and to keep his feet moving. He still has great hands and next year could be an excellent target during power plays.