February Report Card: Player Grades

We're two more months into the season since our last report card, and the sky is no longer falling, now being propped up by masking tape and improved defence. Some players have been better, some have been worse, and it's time to find out who they are.

Note: As per usual with player grades, the assigned grade is not the decision of a single writer. All staff members voted and the grades assigned are an aggregate of that vote. Grades are also based on expectations for each player. For some that's a scoring role, for others it's being a depth defenceman, etc.

Goaltenders Grade Notes
Craig Anderson B-

(December Grade: D+) Biggest change for Anderson since November? Wins. After 6 wins in 15 decisions last time around (.400), he's posted 12 wins in 18 decisions since (.667). His individual performances are hit and miss and nowhere near what was expected.

Robin Lehner C+ (December Grade: A) At the moment, Robin Lehner is dealing with the worst stretch of his NHL career. Weak performances have led to a 2-6-1 record since December and sporadic starts. He needs to be better. At the very least, he took ownership of the loss against Carolina and blamed it on himself.
Mark Borowiecki INC (December Grade: B) Hasn't played in the NHL since December 1.
Cody Ceci A- (December Grade: INC) The biggest surprise this season, Ceci wasn't even expected to get NHL action this season. An emergency callup, Ceci was never sent back down and has been told he's now a member of the NHL club for the remainder of the season. Has well exceeded the expectations of not playing at all. He looks like an NHL defenceman, albeit a young one with flaws. He's also outright stolen Joe Corvo's spot on the roster.
Joe Corvo D (December Grade: C+) Technically still an NHL defenceman.
Jared Cowen C- (December Grade: D-) After a couple weeks of improved play, Cowen is once again back to being a terrifying figure in his own end. His mistakes are often covered up by playing alongside one of the best defencemen in the world as part of Operation Damage Control.
Eric Gryba B (December Grade: C) Easily the most improved defenceman on the team since his last grade. Gryba has gone from uneven play to a reliable member of the defence corps, and his inclusion in the lineup is now seems merited instead of forced.
Erik Karlsson A+ (December Grade: A) Despite putting up points at a lower pace than the first third of the season, Karlsson looks even better on the ice and is continually generating chances the quality of which are, to be honest, ridiculous for a forward let alone a defenceman. Karlsson is the stick that stirs the drink of the Senators' offence. One wonders what he could be doing without the boat anchor that is Jared Cowen.
Marc Methot C (December Grade: B-) Methot declared himself healthy and was then scratched. Yes, Marc Methot was a healthy scratch. He's not playing as well as last season and seems to be in the coach's doghouse. The good news is that Methot has shown he can play better than he has been lately.
Chris Phillips C (December Grade: B-) Phillips has been sitting out with an injury for the last week, but it looks like he's been hurt longer than that. His play has declined since his last report card. Expect him to look better once he returns to the lineup.
Patrick Wiercioch B- (December Grade: C-) A more confident Patrick Wiercioch has led to him being less of a liability on the ice. It would be nice to see him get more consistent starts as he is one of the defenceman who gets scratched on a regular basis.
Cory Conacher B- (December Grade: C) Hard to argue with results: from 5 points in the first two months to 12 since December, Conacher has started putting up numbers. Still lots of room for improvement. He draws penalties, which is useful, but seems to have trouble racking up points without Martin St. Louis to help.
Erik Condra B- (December Grade: D+) Corsi numbers have improved dramatically for Condra who seems to be getting back to his old self. Still surprising every time he scores because he's Erik Condra.
Stephane Da Costa C- (December Grade: INC) Da Costa's first multi-goal game wasn't enough to keep him in the lineup against Toronto.
Derek Grant INC (December Grade: B) The pigeon whisperer hasn't played in the NHL since December 1.
Colin Greening C- (December Grade: D) Colin Greening has scored four times as many goals since his last report card. He isn't approaching the expectations set out by his upcoming contract but he is definitely improving.
Mike Hoffman C (December Grade: INC) Called up briefly, Hoffman is still looking for that elusive first NHL point. His performance in the NHL was disappointing, but he's still tearing up the AHL.
Matt Kassian C (December Grade: D+) Acquired his first regular season NHL assist while helping Mark Stone get his first NHL goal. His 32 PIM in 25 games is still pathetic for someone billed as an enforcer, but putting up points - any points - is above expectations for Kassian.
Clarke MacArthur A+ (December Grade: A+) MacArthur continues to be amongst the best free agent signings of the past summer. Reliable offensively and defensively, he's a coach's dream and has complimented Kyle Turris better than any forward ever has. The pair feed off one another. How the Maple Leafs let him go - let alone scratching him in the playoffs - is ridiculous.
Milan Michalek C (December Grade: C) Most players put up some of their best seasons when they're impending UFA's. Michalek is instead putting up his worst. His bionic knees have slowed him down. Even though +/- is a misleading and potentially useless stat, it's still noteworthy that Milan Michalek is a team-worst -23.
Chris Neil C- (December Grade: C) A ridiculous game against Toronto doesn't offset his ineffectiveness in other games. The Senators picked up 10 of a possible 12 points (4-0-2) in the six game stretch he missed, and have gone 3-3-1 since his return.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau C- (December Grade: D) Pageau stuck around much longer in his second stint in Ottawa this season, a testament to his improved play. Expectations were high for Pageau after his playoff performance, and he hasn't quite met even the tempered version of those expectations.
Bobby Ryan B (December Grade: A+) The hope was that Ryan's omission from the United States Olympic team would ramp up his intensity level. Instead it's done anything but. A horrid January with only two goals is worrisome.
Z. Smith B (December Grade: B) A solid season for Z. Smith continues. His ten goals tie him with all-star forward Dany Heatley, except Z. Smith can fight and take faceoffs and play defence.
Jason Spezza C+ (December Grade: B-) Some nights he's dominant, others he's the #3 centre who needs Z. Smith alongside him to play the defensive role a centre like Spezza would normally provide. 39 points in 50 games is great for most NHL players, but Jason Spezza is not most NHL players and he needs to show that.
Mark Stone B- (December Grade: INC) Was starting to look good putting up his first two NHL points before getting hurt.
Kyle Turris A+ (December Grade: A+) Every goal, assist, and point Turris puts up sets a new career-high for the Senators' new #1 centre. Turris' surge on the depth chart goes hand-in-hand with the chemistry he's developed with Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan, but that's not the only reason. It's obvious that Turris has been working hard on improving his play and it shows. The trade that brought him to Ottawa looks better every day that David Rundblad is a healthy scratch (which is often). During a string of injuries, Turris was rewarded by wearing an alternate captain's A on his sweater.
Mika Zibanejad A- (December Grade: A-) Improves any line he's on. During the brief stint where he supplanted Jason Spezza as the #2 centre, it was more about Zibanejad's play than Spezza's. His sophomore point-per-game pace (0.47) is better than Turris' sophomore season (0.38).

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