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04-07-2011, 06:57 PM
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BingoSensFan
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B-Sens Final Regular Season Grades

Finally, the long wait is over for the Binghamton Senators and their fans as a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs has been established with a 2-1 overtime win over the Norfolk Admirals. All that remains to be decided is the team’s position within the Eastern Conference and its first-round playoff opponent. Though they barely made it into the post-season, the team is in a good place with players returning from Ottawa for what could be a lengthy playoff journey. This squad has heart and team unity that are unquestioned, which could be the difference in the opening series and beyond. The following grades reflect my opinions only.

#2 Eric Gryba, B+. After a lackluster start to the season, he has come on strong, establishing himself as a top-notch shutdown defender. He has become comfortable with and without the puck and his decision-making has improved considerably. Foot speed is a small concern, but for a big man, he moves around adequately. His injury has come at the worst possible time for both him and the team.

#5 Mark Borowiecki, I. A handful of games are not nearly enough to warrant a grade. Most players play well in their first few games and then reality sets in. He has handled himself well. Seemingly, defensive positioning is his greatest asset.

#6 Craig Schira, B-. Often paired with a veteran player, he has been steady if unspectacular. His name hardly ever gets raised when discussing prospects, but he's a nice player. Having him back in the lineup will somewhat soften the blow of Gryba's absence.

#7, Geoff Kinrade, B+. In a year in which many players are getting a shot in Ottawa, why he hasn't is a bit of a head-scratcher. All he does is consistently post the highest plus-minus rating on the defense corps. He isn't flashy, but he gets the job done. It would be very interesting to see how he would perform given a legitimate NHL chance.

#11, Erik Condra, A. He was the top rookie on the team last season, but the improvement he has made this season has been substantial. He has enjoyed some success at the NHL level, but the jury is still out in that regard. Many players can appear better than they are on a poor team with ice time aplenty. Training camp in the fall will be a critical time for him.

#12 Bobby Butler, A-. He's a pure goal scorer who, like many of his ilk, pours in goals by the bushel and then disappears a little bit for a while. However, the effort is always there and he does contribute in some other ways. His sniping talents will probably secure him an NHL job next year, at least to start the campaign.

#14 Roman Wick, B+. He had an inauspicious beginning to his first North American season, but has rebounded nicely. Getting acclimated to the new hockey climate has brought out the puck skills that were hidden beneath the surface during the first half of the season. His stickhandling and ability to protect the puck are definitely at an NHL level. The more comfortable he becomes, the more he is going to show. It won't be too long before he has graduated from the American League.

#15 Colin Greening, A. One cannot possibly say enough good things about this young man. The highest compliment would be to say that he epitomizes everything one would hope for in a hockey player as a teammate, coach, or fan. He does it all, plays any style, and does it well. Off the ice, he is a world-class human being. He will be an Ottawa Senator next season and could be an NHL captain some day.

#16 Cody Bass, B. While the door may be closing on his prospects for an NHL career, a lack of will is not to blame. His role on the team should not be overlooked. His penalty killing has been invaluable, but his best work has come in the form of teaching and being an inspiration to his inexperienced teammates as they fight for a playoff spot.

#17 Patrick Wiercioch, C+. He arrived in Binghamton with the feeling that he should have been in Ottawa and that set him back a bit. The offensive talent is undeniable, but he has a ways to go on the other side of the puck. Most crucial will be his off-season preparations. He needs to gain significant muscle mass if he hopes to make an impact. It could be a year or two before he finally develops into the player he wants to be. When he does, it will be up to him how far he takes his career.

#19 Jim O'Brien, A. By far the most improved player in the organization. He doesn't look like the same player he was last year, and not only because of the new hairstyle. Better conditioning has done wonders for his confidence, which has allowed him to better himself in every aspect of the game. Like Condra, training camp will be important for him. Right now, the players recalled to Ottawa are getting the attention, but it's important to remember that, despite more pro experience, he remains a few years younger than the aforementioned players (Butler, Condra, and Greening).

#20 Jason Bailey, C-. A great teammate, but he has lacked the same jump from a year ago. He used to be a menace on the forecheck, but now he is content to sit back and read the play. He may be thinking too much instead of reacting.

#21 Derek Grant, I. Like Borowiecki, it is much too early to fully analyze his game, but for a new player, he has been exceptional. He has a little bit of Greening in him insofar as being a big body who is a good skater and unafraid to drive the net. He has received quality power play time, albeit with a depleted roster. He should have a good season next year with more confidence in himself.

#22 Ryan Potulny, I. There is no secret to his game, but he just hasn't played enough games for a grade. He's a good fit for this team because of his selflessness and his penchant for making and finishing plays at this level. He already looks good on a line with Ryan Keller and Kaspars Daugavins.

#23 Corey Cowick, C+. He has provided much energy and grit in his brief playing time. He has the makeup to a clutch performer in the coming years. He probably has a long apprenticeship in front of him. He will play in the ECHL playoffs and may not even have a spot wrapped up in Binghamton next year. However, there's no reason to give up hope on him even if he ends up with Elmira again. A good skater who gives an honest effort usually doesn't spend an entire season in the ECHL.

#24 Derek Smith, A-. He's a great AHL defenseman simply because of his experience and ability to carry the puck. Unfortunately, he is still prone to some surprising defensive gaffes, occasionally occurring directly in front of his goaltender. He is likely a career minor leaguer, but a consistent offensive force at that.

#25 David Dziurzynski, C+. He has more talent than meets the eye, but he has been maddeningly inconsistent. For a stretch, he was one of the better players on the team, but that is now just a memory. There are times when he does nothing at all on the ice. He must display some of that potential in the post-season.

#26 Kaspars Daugavins, A-. He had an utterly dreadful start to his season, but has rebounded with a vengeance. It would not be a stretch to call him one of the team's MVPs of the fourth quarter. He has produced offensively, but his largest contribution may have come in the way of shot-blocking. Surprisingly, he has become the team's best at blocking shots and even injured himself doing so. His compete level has never been higher. He deserves another look from Ottawa, but may have to hope to get it with another organization.

#27 Mike Hoffman, C-. He'll be looking to put his first pro season behind him and start anew over the summer. He has the skill set to be a star in the league, but thus far it is simply talent wasted. As with Wiercioch, he could stand to gain a few pounds with a good off-season program. He also must learn to be better in his own zone to gain appropriate ice time. For as slight as he is, he has a booming shot from the high slot or point and he can handle the puck through a maze. He has to want to make a difference.

#28 Ryan Keller, A. He had a slow start to the season and some speculated that he was ill-suited to the captaincy, but he has grown into the role and has been highly instrumental in keeping the team afloat through roster turnover. He is playing with an intensity that is on display more than ever. It will be intriguing to see whether he sticks around another year or bolts back to Europe.

#29 Mike Brodeur, C. This was the season that wasn't for the oft-injured netminder. He has barely played, and when he has he's been both good and bad, which is to be expected. It would seem unlikely that he will return next season.

#33 Barry Brust, A. He is the Binghamton Senators' most valuable player. After dealing with immobilizing injuries for the past three seasons, he wasn't even expected to be in the AHL. He was given an opportunity and ran with it. The players love him and they know chances are pretty good he will bail them out when they suffer miscues. He's never read a goalie's manual, but his determination puts him in front of the puck. It is that determination and flair for the dramatic that has made him a cult hero of sorts in Binghamton, with t-shirts that read, “In Brust We Trust.”

#40 Robin Lehner, C+. His so-so performance this season has been mostly the fault of circumstances beyond his control. Right off the bat, his Visa issues slowed him and it seemed he could never get comfortable. He never knew what the organization wanted from him or where he was going to play. Now that he knows he's going to be in Binghamton for a while, he has settled in and relaxed. He appears to have corrected some blatant maturity issues and is now content to put the team ahead of himself. Even though the season was a wash for him, the good news is he is 19 years old and this will likely have no effect on his development. The flashes he has shown have been scary good. He could be a big time player for many years.

#55 David Hale, A. For a guy who has spent the majority of his career in the NHL, he has been a tremendous part of the club. He has proven to be a consummate professional both on and off the ice. He may not say much, but everyone looks up to him and appreciates him. He's a very dependable defenseman who could probably play in the NHL again for a number of teams.

#61 Andre Benoit, A. With roster upheaval a common theme in Binghamton and Ottawa, there have been times he has played over 30 minutes and looked like he could play 40. He's the top defenseman going into the playoffs so the workload won't be decreased too significantly. He is the definition of the "tweener" term. He may be able to play a bit up top, but perhaps not regularly.

#84, Corey Locke, A. It's not often the league's leading scorer isn't the most valuable player on his own team, but that speaks to Brust's work rather than Locke's shortcoming. Like Benoit, he’s a superstar at the minor league level, but just can’t translate that to NHL success. To be fair, he has yet to receive a chance on a scoring line. There is no denying his skating is weak, his size is a detriment, his defense, though improving, isn’t the best, and he’s a bit of a perimeter player. But there is also no denying that his vision and feather passes are better than those of many NHLers. He will be a very key component in the playoffs as soon as he recovers from his shoulder injury. He has made the playoffs twice in his AHL career, each resulting in a long run and one culminating in a Calder Cup victory with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2006-07.


Last edited by BingoSensFan: 04-07-2011 at 07:03 PM.
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