Silver Seven 2013 Report Cards: Forwards

Goodbye, ruby Guillaume. Who could hang blame on you? - Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto

Now that enough time has passed that we at Silver Seven can reflect on the season without the bitterness of defeat fresh in our minds, it's time for the 2013 season report cards.

Nine members on staff assigned grades for each player on the Ottawa Senators roster, providing us with aggregate final grades. And yes, playoff performances do factor.

Up today: forwards. Be warned, this is a long one.

Alfredsson-grade_medium

This was the season we expected Daniel Alfredsson to tax himself less. Take a few games off here and there, play easier minutes, and enjoy what might be his final season. Well, here's the thing about captains: when the situation calls for it, they rise to the occasion. Alfredsson ended up taking only a single game off en route to finishing third in team scoring, playing tough minutes while most of his teammates were wearing ice packs instead of pants. If this was his final season, Daniel Alfredsson should be damn proud of everything he accomplished. That goal to send the Senators to overtime against Pittsburgh? That's Pageau-level legendary. He'd probably have been better off not dismissing his team's chances in the second round, but I guess he gets points for honesty?

Highest grade: A
Lowest grade: B+

Conacher-grade_medium

Coming over late in the season didn't give Cory Conacher much time to adapt to a new team and a new system, not much time to earn the coach's trust. He never completely got that trust thing off the ground, but that's alright. There's plenty of time for that next season. Kid can crash the net better than most players his size.

Highest grade: B
Lowest grade: C

Condra-grade_medium

Erik Condra has Chris Kelly syndrome (née Sergei Zholtok syndrome, then Antoine Vermette syndrome). He has ridiculous speed, creates incredible opportunities for himself, and then nothing happens. If Condra could score on his self-generated breakouts, he'd be an extraordinarily valuable player. Instead he'll have to settle for being very valuable. Condra looked dynamite with Jean-Gabriel Pageau late in the season and has quickly become one of the best bottom-six forwards on the Ottawa Senators.

Highest grade: A-
Lowest grade: B

Dziurzynski-grade_medium

We're all going to remember Dave Dziurzynski for being knocked out during a fight. Hopefully for him that wasn't his one and only shot at the NHL. On the other hand, Dziurzynski will always have scoring two more goals than Peter Regin in fewer than half as many games to tell his grandkids about, for whatever that's worth. Probably not much.

Highest grade: C
Lowest grade: D+

Greening-grade_medium

Greening is a difficult player to categorize. He's really a jack of all trades rather than a master at one. Sometimes you'll find him on the top line and other times he'll be cleaning up the fourth line. Then he'll be killing penalties one game and the next will be standing in front of the net on the power play. Greening's blood-fueled overtime playoff winner stands out as his season highlight, with being the most articulate player in ticket-selling commercials a close second. He had the lowest point-per-game average of his career while all the players who usually throw the puck off of him were wrapped in bandages.

Highest grade: A-
Lowest grade: B-

Kassian-grade_medium

The lack of conformity on his grades from the staff allows me to pose a question: what, exactly, were we expecting Matt Kassian to do? Fight? He fought a bit. Hit? He hit a bit. Score? Well, no, we probably weren't expecting that, although he did get one goal. He even got some playoff power play time during the second 6-1 rout of Montréal. Was he good this season? Not particularly, but Kassian's game isn't one that lends itself to high grades.

Highest grade: B
Lowest grade: F

Latendresse-grade_medium

Sometimes awful, sometimes awesome, Guillaume Latendresse was a real Russian enigma. Often maligned for no legitimate reason (and often maligned for very legitimate reasons), Latendresse's time in Ottawa likely won't be very memorable. He had some great moments when returning from injury and then ended up losing out in the numbers game when other bodies got healthier. As an attempted reclamation project, Latendresse turned out to be more of a Rent-a-Cheechoo. He won't be returning.

Highest grade: A+
Lowest grade: D

Michalek-grade_medium

The foot bone's connected to the ... leg bone. The leg bone's not connected to the ... rest of Michalek.

If he hadn't been hurt so much, Milan Michalek might have had a better year. Alas, he was one of the skating wounded and without his playmaker in Spezza, he was often all but useless. Not a year to remember for Milan.

Highest grade: B-
Lowest grade: D

Neil-grade_medium

Things Chris Neil did this season: accumulated penalty minutes, went down in a heap a lot. When he's not running around like a fool, Neil can be a very effective player. This season he was not that. Despite getting a decent amount of power play time, Neil managed only 3 points with l'avantage numerique, He's a very divisive player amongst Ottawa Senators fans. Some love him, some hate him. Yet I don't imagine too many are pleased with his play this season.

Highest grade: B-
Lowest grade: C-

Obrien-grade_medium

Jim O'Brien more like Jim O'Scratched. Right? Despite briefly leading uninjured (i.e. non-Erik Karlsson) skaters in goals, O'Brien never seemed to stick in the lineup. In fact, he didn't even dress once after the trade deadline, being replaced by everyone from Regin to Kassian. And he cut his hair, which really was the lowlight of his season.

Highest grade: C+
Lowest grade: D

Pageau-grade_medium

Pageau, Pageau Pageau Pageau. The tiny hometown forward was a surprise call-up near the end of the season during a year where he wasn't even sure he'd make the Binghamton Senators. Jean-Gabriel Pageau quickly became a fan favourite with his strong defensive play, speed, and even net-crashing presence. His playoff hat trick against Montréal and subsequent crowd chant quickly became legendary moments in Senators history. He's set himself up with lofty expectations next season.

Highest grade: A+
Lowest grade: A

Regin-grade_medium

In my mind, nothing sums up Peter Regin's season quite like the above photo by Julie Oliver during the Northern Lights Dream Tour, in which Regin is photographed in a vast plain of emptiness. Regin's season highlight was a shootout winner, and it was the only puck he put in the net outside of practice. No goals, plenty of scratches, and increasingly dropping down the depth chart. Regin received eight F grades out of nine votes. Here's hoping he finds his game elsewhere next season.

Highest grade: D+
Lowest grade: F

Silfverberg-grade_medium

Consistently inconsistent is one of the ways to describe Jakob Silfverberg's rookie season. When Ooh Ah came overseas, he had the kind of pedigree that made it easy to forget that he was only 22-years old and playing his first year on a smaller ice surface and a brand new style of game. Expectations might have been a tad high. Sometimes he'd disappear for games at a time and then bam, a lightning-fast release on a wrist shot and game over, user wins. Whether Silfverberg will be a star in coming years is still up for debate. Not a bad start, though.

Highest grade: B+
Lowest grade: C+

Smith-grade_medium

The highlight of Zack Smith's season was playing a cowboy-esque server in a fantastic video feature for Napoli's Cafe. He had a streaky season (often streaks where nothing happened) and bounced up and mostly down the depth chart. Not a very memorable year for Smith.

Highest grade: B-
Lowest grade: C-

Spezza-grade_medium

There wasn't much to giggle about this season for Jason Spezza. Typically a player with only eight games would receive an incomplete grade, but Spezza's not a typical player. He was a point-a-game player in the regular season and joined an exhausted, outmatched, and broken down team in the playoffs. Too little, too late. Still, a B year for Spezza is an A year for most other players, and we hope to see him lifting with his legs come the fall.

Highest grade: A
Lowest grade: C

Turris-grade_medium

Kyle Turris had an excellent first five games of the season before the wheels flew off the back of the truck and onto Jason Spezza's back. When forced to run the first line, the Turricane was downgraded to a Turristorm. Then without Karlsson (and Michalek, and then Latendresse, Regin for a bit, etc....), Turris really had to run the show himself. Although his numbers are nearly identical to last season's (seriously, 12 goals, 17 assists for 29 points, first in 49 games and then 48 games), Turris did show a visible improvement, particularly in terms of physical strength. A healthy Spezza should do wonders for his game.

Highest grade: A
Lowest grade: B-

Zibanejad-grade_medium

Initially asked to play wing, Mika Zibanejad benefitted from his teammates' witch doctor injury curse (the same witch doctor responsible for Stephane da Costa's miniature head). Zibanejad suddenly found himself playing in the best position on the team and put together a respectable 20 points in 42 games, eighth amongst rookies. A year prior, ZIbanejad managed only a single assist in nine games (in the first game at that) before being told to get back on the fjord to Sweden. All told, a good first full season for a kid who should only get better.

Highest grade: B+
Lowest grade: C+

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