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01-08-2006, 01:00 PM
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MountainHawk
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Location: Salem, MA
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Midseason Grades

Goaltenders

Robert Esche - Inc (C): Injured too much to give an actual grade, but his play so far has been mediocre at best. He should get one more shot when he's fully healthy, but Hitch needs to have a quick hook with the way Nitty has been playing.

Antero Niittymaki - B+: Frank looked very inconsistent early on, but since the last Esche injury as stepped up his play tremendously, and has the most wins of any rookie goalie. If he continues at this level, he has a shot at finishing in the top 3-5 for the Calder.


Defenseman

Eric Desjardins - Inc (B-): He was producing on the offensive end, but was also making some mistakes in the defensive zone. Still, he'll be an upgrade for the defense after the Olympic break, and hopefully he can be fresh and in shape for the postseason.

Derian Hatcher - B+: Yes, he's slow. And you can see that it makes a difference when he gets out of position. But that's been relatively rare, especially over the last 25 games or so. He's been huge picking up some slack for Pitkanen in the defensive end.

Kim Johnsson - B-: His offense contribution has been slightly less than what I expect, and his defense hasn't been as solid as it can be, but he's giving 23 minutes of ice time, and certainly isn't a liability on the ice for most of those.

Freddy Meyer - Inc (C+): He's been a solid filling during the injuries. Personally, I think he deserves to hang on to the sixth spot over Seidenberg and Therien once Joni and Eric are back, but that's probably unlikely

Joni Pitkanen - A: Dominant force. He's going to be a Norris candidate for many years to come. Averaging nearly a PPG as a defender, and is STILL second on the team at +18, despite playing only 25 games. The Flyers defense upgrades huge once he gets back.

Mike Rathje - B+: Rathje hasn't been all that noticeable that often this year, and for a stay at home defenseman playing 20+ minutes a game, that's a good thing.

Dennis Seidenberg - D+: Seidenburg has been bad. Unlike Therien, I haven't seen any signs of even slight improvement. Certainly once Pitkanen and Desjardins are back, his run with the Flyers in 05-06 is over.

Chris Therien - C-: He's struggled this year. He and Seidenburg are both averaging 14 minutes a night, and both are -4. Either his game has to pick up, or his TOI has to go down. There are some signs of the game picking up, but not nearly fast enough for my tastes.

Forwards

Donald Brashear - C-: Some games he seems like he's out there to be a physical force, but those games are too few and far between right now. If Brashear isn't going to use his size and strength, he's fairly useless to the team.

Jeff Carter - B-: A bout with mono clearly slowed him down some, but he's bring a lot of energy to his minutes right now, and has shown flashes of the scoring touch we've all heard about. I don't see him as much more than a 12-15 minutes guy for the rest of the season, but he's going to grow into a great player.

Ben Eager - Inc (C+): He's been a solid callup for the Flyers, and has a terrific work rate. I don't think he can contribute much offensively on a regular basis though, so he a candidate to have his roster spot taken by a deadline acquistion.

Peter Forsberg - A: One of the top 2 players in the NHL with Jagr. He's a serious Hart candidate. He's elevated the game of Gagne tremendously, and as long as he stay healthy is going to be the type of guy that playoff teams have to game plan around.

Simon Gagne - A: With 29 goals, he should be in the Maurice Richard race this season with Kovalchuk. 60 is not out of the question for Simon, which is amazing when you consider where he was without Forsberg a couple of seasons ago. (Side note: My fiancee from Montreal tells me the Flyers announcers says his name wrong: Si-moan is the feminine pronunciation. The easiest way to explain the correct pronunciation is that the n is silent, but the o is sort of nasally.)

Michael Handzus - B+: Death to anyone that suggests trading Handzus. He's a terrific penalty killer, wins a ton of key faceoffs, and contributes points on a reasonably regular basis. These are the type of guys that win playoff series.

Sami Kapanen - A-: Flyers best penalty killer. He almost single handedly allowed the PK to turn around their woeful start, and you can see the number consistently improving since he's been back. All Flyers fans need to be thankful he didn't retire.

Mike Knuble - A-: He's been the perfect player on the GFK line. He does a lot of the work, getting the puck to Foppa and Gagne in dangerous scoring postions.

Keith Primeau - Inc (B+): Nothing much to say, as he's only played 10 games. If we have indeed seen the last of Keith on NHL ice, we all owe the man a huge for his contributions to the Flyers over the years.

Branko Radivojevic - C+: He plays his role as a defensive minded forward adequately, but he's only a +2 and hasn't chipped in offensive much at all.

Mike Richards - B+: Slow start, but averaging 15 minutes a night, and is a .5 PPG player right now. I'd expect that number to grow the rest of the year, but Richards is coming along very nicely.

Brian Savage - C+: He's done what he's needed to do, but I think the Flyers should try to upgrade this spot going into the playoffs. He's very inconsistent in his offensive contribution.

Jon Sim - D+: Not a great year for him, and he seems to be slipping down the depth chart. He can be a Radio type contributor in the defensive end in my opinion, but it hasn't been there this year.

R.J. Umberger - B+: A pleasant surprise for me. I hadn't heard much about him, but he's played his way into the top 9 on a regular basis. His long term future with the Flyers is probably as a winger, due to the insane depth of the Flyers at center.


Last edited by MountainHawk: 01-08-2006 at 02:37 PM.
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