With the seasons for both Hamilton and Montreal now over, it’s time to look back on the year that was. We begin with final grades for the Bulldogs, starting with the goalies and defencemen.
There will be two sets of grades for most players, one for the fourth quarter and another for their overall season performance. Players must have played in 5/19 games to receive a fourth quarter grade and 20/76 games to receive a season grade. Because there are two sets of grades, players will be listed in alphabetical order.
4th Quarter Grade – C: Condon faded down the stretch which was a bit surprising although he was playing into his highest ever regular season workload. The timely saves that he provided during the year weren’t there as often in the final few weeks of the season which really hurt their playoff hopes.
4th Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 4-7-3 record, 3.10 GAA, .901 SV%, 0 SO
Season Grade – A-: His play with Wheeling last year got him on the radar for a lot of fans but his play this past season has gotten the hopes up for those same fans. He didn’t need too long to take over the #1 job with Hamilton and should be a serious contender to back up Carey Price, perhaps as soon as next year.
Season Stats: 48 GP, 23-19-6 record, 2.44 GAA, .921 SV%, 4 SO
4th Quarter Grade – A: The veteran saved his best for last and was rewarded with his lowest playing time of the season although part of that can be attributed to missing the final few games due to a recall to Montreal. Instead of just giving the Bulldogs a shot to win each night, he actually stole a couple of points for them in his few outings.
4th Quarter Stats: 5 GP, 2-1-1 record, 1.96 GAA, .937 SV%, 0 SO
Season Grade – C: Considering he was their highest paid two-way player in franchise history, it’s safe to say the Habs were hoping for him to be more than just an adequate backup but that’s what MacDonald was most nights. He wasn’t terrible often but he wasn’t anything special all that often either.
Season Stats: 26 GP, 10-9-6 record, 2.77 GAA, .910 SV%, 0 SO
N/A Grades: Dustin Tokarski, Brandon Whitney
4th Quarter Grade – B-: With injuries, Allen was forced into arguably the #1 role on the blueline. As a result, Allen’s final quarter of the year was full of ups and downs since he struggles with a big workload. And then, like quite a few others, he got hurt late in the year to make matters worse.
4th Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, -6 rating, 6 PIMS, 23 shots
Season Grade – C+: I was hoping that he’d stabilize the back end but he struggled when placed in a higher role although he played well in a bottom pairing spot. For someone who had a chance to show other NHL teams he still had something in the tank by excelling with Hamilton, Allen did not take advantage of his opportunity.
Season Stats: 35 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, -6 rating, 24 PIMS, 42 shots
4th Quarter Grade – C-: Talk about ending a season with a whimper. Bennett didn’t step up when injuries took their toll and by the end, the late-arriving rookies passed him on the depth chart. That’s not the best of notes to end the season on.
4th Quarter Stats: 12 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -4 rating, 6 PIMS, 15 shots
Season Grade – C: There were more downs than ups for Bennett as he never really got going for any long period of time. He had a few strong games but a lot of mediocre ones. On the plus side, he played almost twice as many games as his past two NCAA years combined; he should be better suited to play a full season next year as a result.
Season Stats: 59 GP, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, -2 rating, 10 PIMS, 64 shots
4th Quarter Grade – C+: He jumped right into the thick of things after his college season ended and handled the change fairly well. He slid into a third pairing role and stayed there down the stretch. Personally, I thought Didier had done enough to warrant a contract but Montreal management may feel differently as he has yet to be signed (they have until August 15th to sign him or he becomes a free agent).
4th Quarter Stats: 8 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, even rating, 5 PIMS, 1 shot
Season Grade – N/A (he only played in those eight games late in the season)
4th Quarter Grade – C: Like quite a few others, he seemed to wear down in the waning weeks of the season. Dietz logged major minutes once all of the injuries hit which likely had something to do with that. He had shown some signs of offensive improvement near the midway mark of the year but that wasn’t to be seen in the stretch run.
4th Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -4 rating, 17 PIMS, 11 shots
Season Grade – B-: After making a late run at a roster spot with Montreal in training camp, hopes were high for the second year pro. Dietz did take some steps forward in his development but I was expecting him to take a bigger leap than he did. Nonetheless, he should be pencilled in on the top pairing with St. John’s to start next season and it’s his play at that time that will dictate his NHL future.
Season Stats: 71 GP, 4 goals, 13 assists, 17 points, -3 rating, 64 PIMS, 65 shots
4th Quarter Grade – B+: Other than the rookies, Drewiske was the only blueliner who didn’t underwhelm in the final weeks of the year. He was his usual steady self and was playing major minutes. Then, like too many others, he was injured (requiring wrist surgery), ending his season early. Losing him was a huge blow to Hamilton’s playoff hopes.
4th Quarter Stats: 5 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 12 shots
Season Grade – A-: With all of the youngsters with the Bulldogs at the beginning of the year, Drewiske was an afterthought early on. By the end though, he was their undisputed top blueliner and would have been recalled for the playoffs had he not been hurt. The Habs paid Drewiske good money to play in the minors this past season and they would be really wise to do so again for next year if he’s willing.
Season Stats: 62 GP, 4 goals, 18 assists, 22 points, +15 rating, 28 PIMS, 112 shots
4th Quarter Grade – B-: Not surprisingly, Ellis wasn’t able to continue his offensive hot streak after being summoned from ECHL Wheeling but he did take hold of a regular spot in the lineup. After not even being with the team for the first half of the year, that wasn’t the worst of ways to finish the season for the third year pro.
4th Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, -4 rating, 4 PIMS, 40 shots
Season Grade – B-: His time with the Bulldogs was pretty good. However, the fact that he couldn’t crack Hamilton’s roster nor earn a call-up in the first half of the season is a huge blemish. In three years, Ellis has gone from a passable depth AHL defenceman to a decent ECHL call-up. That doesn’t bode well for his future. My guess is that CIS hockey is on the horizon for him.
Season Stats: 27 GP, 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points, +3 rating, 13 PIMS, 59 shots
4th Quarter Grade – D: It’s a telling sign that with the team going through a ton of injuries on the back end, Finley still couldn’t crack the lineup with any regularity and when he was in, he didn’t do much. Nothing more really needs to be said here.
4th Quarter Stats: 9 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -1 rating, 27 PIMS, 4 shots
Season Grade – D: He was brought in to fight so that the youngsters didn’t have to. While Finley did drop the gloves, he didn’t serve as any sort of deterrent and the youngsters still fought more than they probably should have. Add that to some poor defensive play and you wonder how in the world he was an NHL 1st round pick years ago. The blueline is looking really thin for next year as things stand but the IceCaps would be wise to look elsewhere.
Season Stats: 54 GP, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, -6 rating, 132 PIMS, 34 shots
4th Quarter Grade – B: It took a couple of games for Lernout to get his chance but he made a strong impression once he got into the lineup. He started on the third pairing but barely two weeks, he was inside the top four while playing surprisingly high minutes. Not bad for a player who won’t turn 20 until next preseason.
4th Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 6 shots
Season Grade – N/A (he only played in those six games late in the season)
4th Quarter Grade – N/A (only 4 GP before being recalled to Montreal)
4th Quarter Stats: 4 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, even rating, 0 PIMS, 5 shots
Season Grade – C: In his end of season press conference, GM Marc Bergevin suggested that Pateryn took a step forward this season. While that certainly was the case with the Habs, it wasn’t with the Bulldogs. After being one of the top offensive threats in 2013-14, that part of his game went away almost completely this past year. He improved on his physical play which was useful to the big club but overall, Pateryn wasn’t as dominant a player as he was a year ago with Hamilton.
Season Stats: 53 GP, 3 goals, 12 assists, 15 points, -1 rating, 56 PIMS, 78 shots
4th Quarter Grade – C: This was Shea’s best stretch of play with the Bulldogs in large part due to the fact he played more over the final six weeks than he did the rest of the season combined. Sarcasm aside, he was decent while playing a regular shift. He also didn’t hesitate to get involved in the rough stuff, something that wasn’t often the case when he was in the lineup previously.
4th Quarter Stats: 12 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, even rating, 32 PIMS, 9 shots
Season Grade – C: For a player that was signed to be a depth player at both the AHL and ECHL levels, Shea did his job. While he wasn’t an impact player, he didn’t hurt the team either. It’s likely that the team will try to carry a couple of extra blueliners next year given the travel difficulties in St. John’s; Shea would be a decent option to bring back in another depth role.
Season Stats: 24 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, -1 rating, 53 PIMS, 17 shots
4th Quarter Grade – C: I give him credit for trying to play through his wrist issues (so I’ll cut him a bit of slack on this grade) but the team was right to shut Tinordi down for two reasons. One, it was better for his long-term health. Two, he was not playing well at all when they did pull the plug. A very disappointing end to a very disappointing season.
4th Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -4 rating, 2 PIMS, 7 shots
Season Grade – C-: Bergevin didn’t want to say he took a step back this year so I’ll say it for him…he took a step back. Tinordi still has yet to find that balance from playing too passively to too aggressively and it’s not as if the rest of his game vastly improved either. I agree with Bergevin in that he should still be part of the future but the light bulb needs to go on this summer.
N/A Grades for the season: Nathan Beaulieu, David Makowski, Magnus Nygren