The IceCaps missed the playoffs in their first of two seasons as Montreal’s AHL affiliate. Despite the poor final result, there were some pleasant surprises this season. Here are our fourth quarter and final grades, starting with the goalies and defencemen.
Players must have played in at least 5/19 games to receive a fourth quarter grade and in at least 20/76 games to receive a final one. Players are sorted by fourth quarter grades.
Eddie Pasquale: A-: Back in his original go-round with St. John’s, Pasquale engineered an impressive stretch to lead them to the playoffs. Though he tried to do that again this year, he came up a bit short but still had a very strong run to finish the year. I don’t know if he’s back next year in the #3 capacity like he started 2015-16 but he’s earned a deal somewhere.
4th Quarter Stats: 11 GP, 6-4-0 record, 2.43 GAA, .924 SV%, 0 SO
Final Grade: B: For someone that was supposed to be a depth goalie, Pasquale wound up being a pretty important player for the IceCaps. With Tokarski gone and Fucale fading down the stretch, the team needed Pasquale to step up and he did just that most nights.
Season Stats: 30 GP, 13-10-3 record, 2.63 GAA, .919 SV%, 0 SO
Zach Fucale: D: Some rookies finish their first pro seasons strong. Other rookies hit the wall. Fucale fell into the latter category and wound up being in a timeshare in the final few weeks of the season as Sylvain Lefebvre felt more confident going to Pasquale. With intriguing prospect Charlie Lindgren now in the fold, finishing like that hurts Fucale that much more.
4th Quarter Stats: 8 GP, 2-5-1 record, 3.74 GAA, .890 SV%, 0 SO
Final Grade: C: The final numbers aren’t too pretty but it’s not as if Fucale had a particularly strong defence in front of him for most of the season. It was an up-and-down year as expected (unfortunately more downs than ups) but Fucale is a long-term development goalie, not someone to expect top results right away from.
Season Stats: 42 GP, 16-19-4 record, 3.13 GAA, .903 SV%, 1 SO
N/A: Ben Scrivens (1 GP)
Brett Lernout: A-: Lernout took advantage of a bunch of extra ice time and finished up his season on a high note…until he got hurt in his first NHL game. He looked like more of a complete player compared to the stay-at-home style he displayed for most of the year and was much more willing to get involved in the rush. That should help his case to push for a top four spot to start next season with the ‘Caps.
4th Quarter Stats: 13 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, +6 rating, 23 PIMS, 13 shots
Final Grade: C+: I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from Lernout this year. If he could hold down a spot in the lineup and see somewhat decent minutes, I would be happy. Up until the last few weeks where he took off, that’s about what he was able to provide for most of the season which isn’t bad considering he still has three years left on his deal (since his contract slid this year).
Season Stats: 69 GP, 2 goals, 10 assists, 12 points, -4 rating, 73 PIMS, 58 shots
Morgan Ellis: B: It was more than a little surprising that Ellis didn’t get another look from the Habs when basically everyone else of note did. That didn’t seem to slow him down, at least in the offensive zone. He wasn’t as sharp in his own end at times but that’s largely understandable considering he was out there for half the game some nights due to a laughably depleted defence corps down the stretch.
4th Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 4 goals, 7 assists, 11 points, -6 rating, 6 PIMS, 48 shots
Final Grade: A+: Ellis made me eat my preseason comments when I mused about my disappointment that he was even offered a contract instead of just being let go. He blossomed into a legitimate top pairing blueliner and became one of the top scoring threats league wide from the back end. What more could you ask for from him?
Season Stats: 73 GP, 16 goals, 26 assists, 42 points, +2 rating, 51 PIMS, 172 shots
Josiah Didier: B: Didier was much more assertive over the last couple of months of the season. He was better at deciding when and when not to go for the big hit while he succeeded much more often in playing a shutdown game. He’s still not a good fighter at all but that’s about the only real blemish to speak of here.
4th Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +7 rating, 27 PIMS, 22 shots
Final Grade: C: Once he got into the lineup, Didier was decent in that stay-at-home role. A big concern looking forward is that his overall skill game is virtually non-existent. The need for those types of players has dwindled considerably in recent years which is why I could see the Habs opting not to offer him an entry-level deal. He’s worthy of another AHL pact but would he be better served to take one of those in a different organization? That might be the best way to go for him.
Season Stats: 53 GP, 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points, even rating, 58 PIMS, 40 shots
Ryan Johnston: B-: When he has the puck on his stick, good things happen. He has the poise and patience to wait to make the right play. When it’s not on his stick, Johnston doesn’t fare anywhere near as well. His smaller stature doesn’t help either in terms of clearing the crease. When he started seeing more ice time, the point production went up but so did the defensive issues. He’ll need to shore that up next year.
4th Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 0 goals, 6 assists, 6 points, -2 rating, 2 PIMS, 13 shots
Final Grade: C: I have a hard time getting past his in-zone struggles which makes it hard for me to go any higher than this. As a college-trained player, I was expecting him to at least be smarter in his own end than he showed most nights. I’m still intrigued by his skating and passing skills though so I’m certainly not writing him off.
Season Stats: 37 GP, 0 goals, 12 assists, 12 points, -14 rating, 14 PIMS, 34 shots
Tom Parisi: C+: His skating and poise with the puck really stood out in Parisi’s limited action. He was a bit shaky in his own end at times but that’s not all that surprising considering he jumped to a higher level of competition and had to adjust to a new system and several different partners all at once. All in all, a decent debut for the Habs’ newest blueline prospect.
4th Quarter/Season Stats: 5 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, even rating, 4 PIMS, 5 shots
Joel Hanley: C: He was the feel-good story for Montreal in the last quarter of the year but this grade only looks at his St. John’s action where he wasn’t anywhere near as good. He played like a depth player but because of injuries, he wound up playing more minutes than someone playing a depth role should have.
4th Quarter Stats: 11 GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point, -4 rating, 4 PIMS, 18 shots
Final Grade: C+: As we saw with Hanley’s time with the big club, there were moments where you could see what the Habs saw in him when they rushed to sign him last summer. There were other times where he looked like a short-term placeholder until other prospects were ready or signed. He probably has done enough to earn another deal for next year but he still is probably more of a placeholder more than a true prospect.
Season Stats: 64 GP, 5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points, -11 rating, 25 PIMS, 73 shots
Darren Dietz: C-: Some players earned their late season call-ups but I wouldn’t say Dietz was one of them (despite the fact he held his own with the Habs). He was given a chance to play big minutes with all of the other injuries and recalls but didn’t step up with the added responsibility.
4th Quarter Stats: 7 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -4 rating, 21 PIMS, 12 shots
Final Grade: C: For the season, Dietz was okay but nothing more than that. That’s generally not what you want to hear regarding a third year pro who has hopes of being in the NHL. As was the case in the few weeks leading up to his recall, he wasted a golden opportunity to take advantage of playing a bigger role in all situations.
Season Stats: 61 GP, 4 goals, 12 assists, 16 points, -8 rating, 61 PIMS, 108 shots
Mac Bennett: D-: He rarely could crack the lineup despite all of the injuries, recalls, and tryouts that left so many holes on the blueline. Bennett couldn’t even beat out John Scott for a spot some nights. I don’t think anything more really needs to be said.
4th Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -3 rating, 2 PIMS, 13 shots
Final Grade: D-: What a disastrous season it turned out to be for Bennett. There were plenty of chances to take on a bigger role – to take on any role, even – but he failed to take advantage of any of them. I suspect we’ve likely seen the last of him in the organization which is particularly disappointing as I had high hopes for him just a few years ago.
Season Stats: 35 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, -11 rating, 30 PIMS, 32 shots
Mark Barberio: N/A – Didn’t play in the final quarter.
Final Grade: A: He made it through waivers at the end of training camp but I don’t think he will next year if they try it again. He was a great player for St. John’s when he was there, a true #1 defenceman which the team had lacked in recent years. Interestingly enough, despite not playing a single game for them past Boxing Day, he still finished second in points by defencemen.
Season Stats: 26 GP, 2 goals, 18 assists, 20 points, even rating, 25 PIMS, 51 shots
N/A: Simon Bourque (3 GP), Travis Brown (2 GP), Chris Joyaux (released), Dalton Thrower (1 GP)