It’s time again for the my annual Quarter Grades report as the Binghamton Senators have just completed 19 games during the current, and final 2016-’17 season as top affiliate with the Ottawa Senators. With a record of 5-12-1-1 the club sits at the bottom of the AHL in what has been a disastrous first quarter. The defense has been hit with call ups, goaltending has been sub-par and an anemic offense that can’t be relied on.
A new twist from my past evaluations is the addition for others just as passionate as I am to include their votes with a new voting committee that consists of a group of six that have witnessed the highs and lows so far.
This is something I wanted to try so I think as readers you’ll hopefully enjoy. After the stats for each player, a number follows which would be my grade number that I posted first, followed by a second number that represents the panel’s vote. That second number was divided by the six members, then applied to a letter grade that is broken down in the following image;
It’s been another slow start out of the gate that is all to familiar with the defense out front to otherwise carry the brunt of the team’s first quarter failures. They have allowed 62 goals with an average of 3.26 per game and 27.84 shots on average while the PK is at 82.0% for 16th position.
#3 Fredrik Claesson (9gms, 0g 1a) 95 / 94.5 / A
It appears his days are numbered in most likely will be his last season for the organization. Everyone loves his efforts while he’s been in Binghamton and we all know he doesn’t belong here any longer. Big question is will he stick up top with the big club? Hopefully he does as he has nothing left to prove at the AHL level.
#6 *Andreas Englund (18gms, 1g 4a) 83 / 85 / B
Uprising prospect that has otherwised surprised with his quick adjustment to North American style of hockey explains what he brings. Hasn’t looked out of place and is willing to drop the gloves to defend his teammates. What more can you ask for from a Swedish native that tradition would dictate tends to stray away from the physical type of game. He’s on the fast pace of success and should get a small cup of coffee before the season is up. UPDATE: Has been called up
#7 Chris Carlisle (18gms, 1g 5a) 80 / 77.16 C+
Ya gotta love his offensive game besides the low numbers. Versatile player that can play forward if needed with some offensive uptick. Gets involved and uses his small frame to the max when defending the zone.
#15 Chris Rumble (9gms, 1g 3a) 70 / 71.66 C-
Seems to possess some offense with a quick shot from the blueline, but it’s a small sample size to judge by. Seems the panel also is an agreement with the results too early to tell. Does have a quick slapper that is accurate.
#21 Michael Kostka (19gms, 0g 6a) 71 / 79.16 C+
It’s been a rough start for the veteran as it looks like he has lost a step when handling the puck on the offense, and creates way too many turnovers for my comfort level. It’s always a risk when he attempts defense but the committee was more optimistic than I was. Looks like the additional playing time is beginning to take a toll.
#23 Patrick Sieloff (17gms, 1g 1a) 72 / 79.83 C+
Just your average type defenseman in the AHL and that’s all. Just not enough talent to push his game to the next level. Recently a healthy scratch and looks lost at times.
#24 Ben Harpur (15gms, 0g 1a) 68 / 65.16 D
The committee has responded and their not too happy with his efforts in the first quarter. Still a ways off but continues to show the slightest of improvement. Dropped the gloves with a fight that seemed impossible in the beginning, as he was the one to shy away from any physical contact earlier on in his career. Tall, lanky and slow footed.
#28 Guillaume Lepine (12gms, 0g 0a) 79 / 73.66 C
Biggest signing for the BSens during the off-season but has struggled a bit in the 1st quarter. Good size and toughness. Looks to have lost that edge of his willingness to drop the gloves. Perhaps that is on the coaches holding him back.
The recent addition of forward Jason Akeson should jump start the stagnant offense as we move forward into the second quarter. They have scored just 41 goals to rank last with an average of 2.15 per game and 29.31 shots on average while the power play stands at 12.1% for 27th spot of the 30 teams.
#8 Kyle Flanagan (18gms, 1g 7a) 83 / 85.42 B
This was most likely the best forward to be re-signed to a AHL contract during the off-season for the club as he’s just so smart with the puck and is that play-maker every team needs. The knock on him is his size, as this is as far as he will go at the pro level.
#9 *Alex Krushelnyski (7gms, 1g 0a) 72 / 72.4 C-
The Russian Experiment is just that. An experiment. Too early to decide if he belongs at this level as the book is still out there for this rookie. Is here because the shortage of forwards as he should be in Wichita.
# 10 Buddy Robinson (18gms, 3g 4a) 74 / 76.91 C
Best PK’er on the team, but will that alone land him in the NHL? Lacks finesse, and is awkward at times trying to manage that large frame of his while driving down the lane. Still can’t finish a breakaway opportunity. UPDATE: Has been called up
#12 *Jack Rodewald (10gms, 3g 2a) 80 / 80 B-
Had a good camp in Bingo and recently called up from Wichita to help fill the void up front and has surprised many with his production that might earn him a permanent home here in Binghamton. Good hustler and attacks the net well.
#13 Nick Paul (18gms, 1g 4a) 83 / 75 C
Big difference in my vote vs. the committee as I sorta leaned towards how much better he has looked over this time last season. The rest saw a different picture with him still not doing anything different. Perhaps I might side with them on this one when thinking twice, but I wouldn’t totally give up on him just yet. Recently suffered a deep cut from a skate to his forearm that may force him to miss some games coming up.
#14 Mike Blunden (18gms, 3g 4a) 84 / 85 B
The newly elected Captain of the team taking it away from Stortini. Brings a veteran leadership and a gritty edge as one of those that sticks up for his teammates. Fans remember him in his Syracuse days as an agitator that gets under your skin but have since warmed up to him.
#16 Chad Nehring (7gms, 0g 1a) 73 / 77.4 C+
Missed a handful of games out with a concussion and just started back getting his game resolved. Hard vote as a member couldn’t give him a grade with him missing so many games. Let’s see what he can bring during the 2nd quarter as the panel remains hopeful with their vote.
#17 Max McCormick (12gms, 3g 1a) 84 / 83 B
My dark horse player that I have mentioned when he broke into the pros and continues to work hard to make it to the next level, as he has been rewarded with his hard work during his recent call-up. I said it before and will say it again, I wish we had a bunch more like him. Always hustles and works hard with and without the puck.
#20 Ryan Rupert (19gms, 3g 3a) 84 / 79 C+
Quietly gets things done with his offensive prowess that has otherwised underachieved so far. Looks like I was above the group in the average grade as I think he’ll be a solid top six by the end of the first half of the season despite his small stature. Attacks the net well and good ice vision.
#22 Phil Varone (16gms, 4g 8a) 88 / 86.16 B
That veteran guy that every team desires. A bunch of high energy, bulk lightening waiting to strike at anytime type of player when unleashed, look out. Known to have an attitude that isn’t either good, nor necessarily bad as he produces either way. Very emotional type and will let his play dictate the way the team performs. Being reunited with Akeson will only help his numbers.
#25 Casey Bailey (19gms, 6g 4a) 86 / 86.66 B
Raw talent that the club currently lacks on a broader context. Will he be an everyday player in the NHL? Perhaps. Hard to tell and might end up being a ‘tweener’. Still hard to not notice his efforts along side his leadership. Right on line with the panel’s decision. Team leader and possesses good hands while strong on his skates.
#27 *Francis Perron (19gms, 4g 3a) 82 / 78.66 C+
Has the ability to showcase what is a lethal wrist shot, above and beyond what Mike Hoffman possesses. His goals comes in bunches and just needs time to develop and gain experience. Kid is going to be really good as long as Ottawa doesn’t rush him. Let him develop properly for long time results that will prove beneficial for both the organization and himself.
#45 Zack Stortini (18gms, 2g 1a) 60 / 65.66 D
Really has declined with a recent healthy scratch and also has trouble in dropping the gloves, something out of characteristic for the once, tough enforcer. Despite the recent decline dispayed by him, Storts is still one of the guys you look up to, especially from the group of new guys.
Curtis Lazar (13gms, 3g 1a) 95 / 91.16 A-
Even though he’s up in Ottawa, his time in Binghamton shouldn’t be ignored as he made a mark for himself with many of the fan base in Binghamton. Started out slowly but turned it on during the latter stages of his “conditioning stint”. Easily the best forward on the team with his tenacity and movement before he was recalled, which by all means, for good as there isn’t a reason for him to be down here any longer.
Vincent Dunn (8gms, 0g 2a) Inc.
I didn’t bother in taking the temperature of the panel group on their thoughts for Vincent as I’m almost certain it would’ve been pretty chilly, as he will most likely spend the rest of the season in Wichita playing for the Thunder. he just didn’t mount to much as I don’t see how he returns for the Senators as the club has been short a forward or two for the last several games. I suppose we’re over and Dunn with him?
#29 Matt O'Connor (2-6-1-0, 2.91 GAA, 0.899 SV%) 80 / 77 C+
He’s heading down the right path and has improved over his rookie season despite what his record shows. Better glove work and most importantly better positionally. Should have seen some time in the ECHL but the path he took has been learning on the fly with mixed results. Not too sure if he is offered a new contract unless he starts putting up better numbers.
#33 Chris Driedger (3-3-1-1, 2.84 GAA, 0.890 SV%) 92 / 88 B+
Off to his best start in his young pro career and should get plenty of playing time as we approach the 2nd quarter. Been sidelined as of late with Hammond down, and a previous recall to Ottawa. All eyes should be on him as he’s going to be in the NHL soon despite his off night on Friday.
#30 Andrew Hammond (0-2-0-0, 2.56 GAA, 0.907 SV%) 83 / 81.66 B-
Hammond was forced to return to the Southern Tier after refusing a conditioning stint assignment that didn’t bode well in the minds up top in Ottawa, as a result a trade was in the works but no takers. Hammond has since been recalled after his appearance in two games.
Coaching Staff 81 / 80.33 B-
Kurt Kleinendorst returns and has been challenged often in his first 19 games during his second stint behind the bench in Binghamton. He is joined up with Steve Stirling as the ex-Broome Dusters’ player has made Binghamton a home in his 6th season serving as an assistant coach.
Coach KK hasn’t had much success with the system in place set by Ottawa, or the talent, as there are a handful of players on this team that are border line ECHL quality. The veterans have also been a disappointment outside maybe a few, but most important the lack of consistency is bothersome. I think the staff has done fairly well with what they have and there is time to work on the things that are broken.
Comments from the Panel
I asked the guys and gals what their thoughts were heading into the 2nd quarter with the 1st now behind them. This is what they shared;
Disappointing first quarter. Camp focused on fundamentals and discipline so I expected to see a different team this season. We have some talent, but chemistry is inconsistent. Excited about Akeson returning. Hopefully he and Varone can inspire the team with theirs. ~ Erin Lynn
BSens started slow but things are starting to look up since we've started scoring. Lazar was THE highlight of the 1st quarter. Ton of hustle, no fear of the dirty areas, always smiling. We have enough talent to win some games if we could play more consistently. ~ Alicia Strauch
The bottom line is the team has a lot of potential talent. But the key word is "potential". It's not being brought out properly by the systems in place and a passable defense certainly doesn't help. Still plenty of hockey to go, but deep down I can't help but feel like I've seen this show before. ~ Ben Sperduti
Definite under achieving with plenty of room and enough talent for substantial improvement. ~ MVK
A bit of a disappointing start to the final year of the Bsens. That being said, there have been glimpses of great potential. I'm interested in how things change come the second quarter. Hopefully for the better. ~ Emily Rose
As highlighted above, the overall feeling is this team has enough talent to win and with the right approach they can turn it around, but it will take some addtional patience. The offense needs to kick it in gear and with the recent signing of Jason Akeson it will help in achieving that goal with his point per game average. The defense is rather thin, but if they can hold their own and if the goaltending is willing to steal a few games here and there we might be singing a different swan song before the final season has ended.
* = Rookie