Although it hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as last year, scoring has been
an issue through the first half of the season for the Hamilton Bulldogs who have
the lowest goal total of any team currently in a playoff spot. Many of the
forwards that were expected to shoulder the load have tailed off in recent weeks
leading to several lower grades for the second quarter.
Players must have played in at least five games to receive a grade.
Forwards that are no longer with the team will not be graded.
Sven Andrighetto: B-: The Swiss rookie came back down to Earth a bit
after a surprisingly hot start to the season. He still is a fixture on the
top line but opposing teams are starting to key in on him a bit more, especially
with some other top liners scuffling. Now fully recovered from injury,
Hamilton will be counting on him to pick up the pace in the second half, much
like current Hab Michael Bournival did last year.
2nd Quarter Stats: 11 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, -5 rating, 10 PIMS,
Season Stats: 26 GP, 8 goals, 9 assists, 17 points, -1 rating, 18 PIMS, 62
Michael Blunden: B+: When some of the other forwards went down with
injuries, the team called on Blunden to take on a bigger workload.
Surprisingly, he handled the extra responsibilities well and was able to keep
producing against tougher opponents. He finds himself as a regular on the
Bulldogs’ second line (also their checking unit) and despite his stint with the
Habs earlier in the year, has played well enough to warrant consideration for
another recall at some point.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points, -1 rating, 23 PIMS, 52 shots
Season Stats: 31 GP, 8 goals, 11 assists, 19 points, +5 rating, 48 PIMS, 78
Gabriel Dumont: A-: After an awful first quarter, Dumont, now one of
the grizzled veterans on the Bulldogs, was able to rediscover his scoring touch.
Like Blunden, he saw his role elevated when the injury bug struck and since
then, he has slotted in comfortably as Hamilton’s second line centre.
Dumont is going to need to keep up this pace if the Bulldogs are going to
continue their push for a playoff spot.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 7 goals, 3 assists, 10 points, +3 rating, 19 PIMS, 55 shots
Season Stats: 36 GP, 8 goals, 9 assists, 17 points, even rating, 46 PIMS, 94
Stefan Fournier: C: Although the numbers don’t really bear it out,
Fournier was a useful player for Hamilton in this stretch of games. After
being in and out of the lineup early on, he has taken a regular shift, has upped
his physical play, and really is beginning to adapt to the professional level.
I don’t expect his offensive game to take a huge jump in the second half though,
his development curve is still going to be slow.
2nd Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, even rating, 53 PIMS,
Season Stats: 23 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, even rating, 75 PIMS, 34
Patrick Holland: C+: Despite playing on the top line for much of the
second quarter, Holland’s offensive game has regressed from his rookie AHL
campaign. He still is playing a quality two-way game, however, which
likely has kept him on the number one unit despite his struggles. Also,
for anyone wondering, that PIM total you see below is not a typo. In his
first 100 pro games (between Hamilton and Montreal), he has taken just four
2nd Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, +2 rating, 0 PIMS,
Season Stats: 25 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, +3 rating, 0 PIMS, 30
Louis Leblanc: B-: The timing of Leblanc’s recall was actually a bit
curious given that he is in the biggest offensive drought of the season at the
moment. Part of that, however, is attributed to the fact he has been
buried on the third line but his play has tapered off since the beginning of the
year. With that in mind and his waiver eligibility kicking in next season,
it may be fair to speculate that this stint in Montreal may be his last chance
if it doesn’t go well.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, +2 rating, 10 PIMS,
Season Stats: 35 GP, 9 goals, 11 assists, 20 points, +3 rating, 30 PIMS, 90
Maxime Macenauer: C+: Although he has taken a couple of steps back and
isn’t the player he was just a couple of seasons ago with Anaheim, Macenauer has
been one of the unsung heroes for the Bulldogs this year. He has been
reliable in his own end and over the past few games is starting to make an
impact on the scoresheet as well. Of the players who began the season on
tryouts, Macenauer is the only one to have earned a full-season contract.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, +2 rating, 22 PIMS,
Season Stats: 36 GP, 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points, even rating, 28 PIMS, 54
Joonas Nattinen: B-: For some reason, coach Sylvain Lefebvre really
doesn’t seem to want to play Nattinen anywhere but the fourth line and has at
times put players from the ECHL ahead of him. He has been an effective
player despite limited ice time which I think earned him the brief stint with
the big club. If given the opportunity, I think he can step up in the
second half but if history repeats itself, he’ll be mired on the bottom line for
a while yet.
2nd Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, +2 rating, 8 PIMS,
Season Stats: 37 GP, 5 goals, 6 assists, 11 points, +2 rating, 12 PIMS, 35
Jordan Owens: D+: The offence hasn’t translated since the 27 year old
was signed out of the ECHL. If the name doesn’t sound too familiar, I
wouldn’t worry much as he may not be around much longer. As a player who
counts against Hamilton’s veteran quota (there is a limit in the minors as to
how many veterans you play), Owens hasn’t done enough to justify keeping him
around past the end of his tryout.
2nd Quarter, Season Stats: 11 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -2
rating, 19 PIMS, 20 shots
Martin St. Pierre: B+: He was brought in to be the #1 scorer and St.
Pierre has done that but has done so rather quietly. He isn’t dominating
like the expectation was when he signed (remember he’s the highest paid two-way
skater in franchise history). A bigger second half is required and he has
shown in the past that he is capable of doing just that. If he can step it
up, Hamilton’s playoff odds will get a big boost.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 4 goals, 9 assists, 13 points, -5 rating, 10 PIMS,
Season Stats: 35 GP, 7 goals, 20 assists, 27 points, -7 rating, 26 PIMS, 56
Nick Tarnasky: C+: For some reason, the coaches like to play tough
guys in scoring roles which has given Tarnasky a lot of playing time this
season. He is the other winger on the checking line alongside Dumont and
Blunden and has fared reasonably well in that role despite not having the
offensive prowess that the other two had in this quarter of the year. That
said, here’s hoping for a reduced role in the second half, freeing up more ice
time for the prospects.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, +4 rating, 40 PIMS,
Season Stats: 38 GP, 9 goals, 4 assists, 13 points, -8 rating, 67 PIMS, 53
Christian Thomas: C: This is a case where the numbers look better than
they are as most of his points came in a two-game stretch. The rest of the
time, he hasn’t been a threat on too many nights. Like Leblanc, it’s
puzzling why he seems to be locked into a third line spot but Thomas needs to be
better to force the coaches to move him up in the lineup. He had a better
second half in his rookie campaign and will need to do so again here as he is
one of the Bulldogs’ few pure snipers.
2nd Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, +2 rating, 12 PIMS,
Season Stats: 19 GP, 3 goals, 8 assists, 11 points, -1 rating, 14 PIMS, 51
N/A Grades: Ben Duffy, Stephen MacAulay, Scott Zurevinski (all
released), Steve Quailer (only 2 GP)