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The 2012-13 AHL season has not been kind to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Even though the team didn't have to worry about losing anyone to NHL callups during the lockout, fielding a competitive lineup on a nightly basis has been more difficult than expected. As the team has now passed the halfway point of the season, it's time for mid-term report cards, beginning with the goaltenders and defencemen.
Stats are as of games played through January 21st. Players must have played in at least 25% of team games (10/40) to be graded.
Cedrick Desjardins - C-: The hope was that Desjardins, one of the AHL's better goalies the past few seasons, would be able to steal some games to help bail out a young defence corps as long as he could stay healthy (a challenge for him). He hasn't been bit too hard by the injury bug but he has struggled considerably, particularly over the last month. I believe he still has the ability to have a positive impact in the second half but he will need to be much better. Winning a game, something he hasn't done in six weeks, would be a good way to start.
Season Stats: 18 GP, 5-11-2 record, 2.88 GAA, .906 SV%, 2 SO, 5/11 in shootout saves
Robert Mayer - C: I never would have guessed that at this stage of the year, Mayer would have more victories than Desjardins. He still has issues with consistency and untimely soft goals but even though his season totals don't reflect it, he has played better for the most part than he did in 2011-12. He always has been a streaky goalie but the good streaks have been a bit longer this season and the Bulldogs have benefited from that.
Season Stats: 22 GP, 8-9-3 record, 3.15 GAA, .893 SV%, 12/19 in shootout saves
Not Rated: Peter Delmas (not enough GP)
Nathan Beaulieu - B-: Even though he leads the team in points by a defenceman (which sounds nice until you realize it's a paltry 25-point pace), Beaulieu has been a little bit underwhelming offensively. He's anchoring the Bulldogs' powerplay but it sits dead last in the league at 9.9%. On the plus side, his defensive game has improved considerably which is why he gets this grade. His still is prone to a blunder a bit too often but he has adjusted well to the speed of the game and has improved his decision making with the puck.
Season Stats: 39 GP, 2 goals, 11 assists, 13 points, -11 rating, 88 SOG, 35 PIMS, 2/2 in shootouts
Antoine Corbin - D+: I don't think anyone had too high of expectations for a player who made the team as a tryout but Corbin has routinely been a healthy scratch and only sees very limited minutes when he does get to play. Injuries and depth issues have prevented him from getting sent to the ECHL which is where really he should be at this stage of his career. At this point, he's not worth giving an entry-level contract to from the Habs' perspective but a better second half might earn him another AHL deal.
Season Stats: 22 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, -10 rating, 31 SOG, 18 PIMS
Mike Commodore - C-: It pains me a bit to give him this grade as I imagine he did wonders off the ice working with all of the youngsters on the blueline. However, that's speculative on my part and I can only grade based on his on-ice performance which was for the most part below average, especially at the beginning of his tryout. He was released on Tuesday.
Season Stats: 17 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -4 rating, 12 SOG, 26 PIMS
Morgan Ellis - C: Like Beaulieu, I was expecting more from him offensively although in his defence, he hasn't been used as much on the powerplay. An early injury prevented him from participating in training camp and really put him a step behind when he did get into the lineup. He has improved as the season goes on but at this stage, it's safe to say he's further away from being NHL ready than most would have expected back in September.
Season Stats: 36 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, -9 rating, 35 SOG, 37 PIMS
Frederic St. Denis - C+: I had hoped that St. Denis would have been that stabilizing workhorse that could be leaned on to play a bigger role this season. Unfortunately he hasn't been able to do that but he remains Hamilton's most consistent defenceman on a night-to-night basis. If the team is to have any success in the second half though, he will need to find that form that earned him an extended stint in Montreal last season.
Season Stats: 37 GP, 3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points, even rating, 53 SOG, 12 PIMS, 0/1 in shootouts
Jarred Tinordi - B-: Tinordi has settled in reasonably well as a dependable stay-at-home defenceman, the type of player every team can use. To me, the biggest surprise is that he hasn't played as physical as his size allows him to; by no means could anyone even attempt to classify him as 'soft' but he's not a punishing player on a regular basis either. Becoming a stronger physical presence will allow him to take that next step forward. Being named an alternate captain barely a quarter of the way through his rookie season is also worth noting.
Season Stats: 38 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, -4 rating, 35 SOG, 39 PIMS