Recently, the Hamilton Bulldogs passed the one-quarter mark of their 2014-15
season. So far, there has been some good mixed in with the bad as Hamilton
has hovered around the .500 mark for much of the season. Here’s a look at
how the Bulldogs are faring in the early going, starting with the goaltenders
Players must have played in at least 5/19 games to receive a grade.
Mike Condon: A-: After a strong showing with Wheeling last year, I was
interested to see how he’d fare with a full-time promotion to the AHL. So
far, so good for the most part. Injuries forced him into the starting job
for a bit and he hasn’t looked out of place. Inconsistency has been a bit
of an issue though – he has four games where he has allowed only one goal and
four others where he allowed four. Aside from that, he’s off to a strong
Stats: 11 GP, 5-5-1 record, 2.44 GAA, .924 SV%, 0 SO
Joey MacDonald: B-: Although he’s getting big money on a two-way deal
(the most expensive two-way minor league salary in franchise history),
MacDonald’s history suggested that instead of being a dominant goalie like the
one he’s replacing, the expectation should be more about mediocrity. He
hasn’t stolen many games but he has kept the Bulldogs in most of his starts as
well. Given his salary, it would be nice for him to pick it up but I don’t
think he has been a big disappointment either.
Stats: 8 GP, 3-4-1 record, 2.75 GAA, .896 SV%, 0 SO
Magnus Nygren: B: Let’s get the obvious out of the way, he didn’t
leave the team which already puts him in a better situation than this time last
year. Offensively, Nygren started off slow but really started to make his
mark towards the back end of November. In his own end, he’s still a little
rocky but he has improved compared to his brief time in 2013-14. With the
defensive depth in Montreal, he’s going to have to find another level to earn
himself a call-up.
Stats: 14 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, +4 rating, 2 PIMS, 33
Mac Bennett: B: Bennett didn’t have the best of starts to his pro
career but has shown steady improvement. Unfortunately for the 23 year
old, he has been the biggest victim of the Habs’ acquisitions of Sergei Gonchar
and Bryan Allen. With everyone on Hamilton getting knocked down a couple
of pegs on the depth chart, Bennett has found himself on the outside looking in
more often than not over the last few weeks despite being the second highest
point-getting defenceman on the team.
Stats: 14 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, even rating, 0 PIMS, 11
Davis Drewiske: B-: If Drewiske was with the Canadiens, the scouting
report would more or less be that he can give the team limited minutes and not
hurt them too badly. This is pretty much the exact same role he has with
Hamilton except for the fact that he is seeing top-4 minutes instead of the
lower ice time he’d get as a depth guy with Montreal. He has been steady
and with a young defence corps, that type of player is particularly useful.
Stats: 19 GP, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, +2 rating, 6 PIMS, 26
Darren Dietz: C+: For someone that really made an impression on Michel
Therrien and his coaching staff, Dietz really hasn’t done a whole lot this year.
His offensive game hasn’t taken any notable steps forward although he has been
steady in his own end. With Beaulieu and Tinordi seeing more time down on
the farm, Dietz will need to find a way to get going from a third pairing role
as right now, time in the top-4 is going to be hard to come by.
Stats: 18 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, even rating, 14 PIMS, 14
Greg Pateryn: C+: After being unquestionably the top defenceman on the
Bulldogs last year, expectations were high. Instead, he has taken a bit of
a step back. He started the season with a poor frame of mind having been a
fairly early cut (surprisingly) by Montreal in training camp and it has taken
him a while to get over that. He has been better lately but if he wants to
get to the big club this year, he needs to become a legitimate #1 blueliner once
Stats: 19 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, +3 rating, 22 PIMS, 25
Jarred Tinordi: C: Upon getting sent down, I expected Tinordi to
strive to show that he can still be the physical, stay-at-home blueliner the
Habs want him to be. So far, only the second part of that has been true.
I don’t want to call him a ‘gentle giant’ but he’s not impacting the game as
much as he could in that regard either. Overall, Tinordi has been decent.
At this stage of his development and with an eye on getting recalled, decent
isn’t good enough.
Stats: 9 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, +1 rating, 5 PIMS, 11 shots
Joe Finley: C: The 6’8 defenceman was brought in to provide leadership
and hit people, the latter in particular being important. He has done that
much at least. Unfortunately, Sylvain Lefebvre seems intent on playing him
over actual prospects most nights and that’s not ideal. If they want his
toughness on a regular basis, why not play him on the fourth line sometimes?
That way, he can focus on the pugilistic side (his only good element) and allow
a more talented blueliner to play as well.
Stats: 17 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -4 rating, 61 PIMS, 13 shots
N/A (not enough GP): Nathan Beaulieu, Morgan Ellis, Bobby Shea