Grading the 2011-2012 Amerks Roster

It’s time to finally post our grades for the 2011-2012 Amerks roster and no, it’s not a mistake that it’s the end of June.  Once the season is over interest pretty much fades and so does traffic, even when new content is posted.  This is the time of year that there’s also renewed interest in talking about hockey again with the start of free agency and hockey fans from around the world trying to find information on players as they move around.

The grades are primarily put together by Eric Bourgeois and Peter Borrelli, two die hards who watch the game closely.  The first grade is from Eric, second is Pete.  Comments have names added after as well.

Joe Finley (A / B+)

  • That big physical D we’re needed for years.  Consistent.  Great team guy.  Willing to protect teammates. (Eric)
  • It was physically painful to me to watch him try to hold back from killing anyone that touched our goalie. Current over-officiating kills a guy like him. (Pete)

Marcus Foligno (A / A+)

  • After a medicore start, he turned into an NHL’er overnight.  One of the few who  didn’t look overmatched against Marlies.  Big and plays big! (Eric)
  • Would-be Team MVP with a full season. The type of player I wish every player could be. Gritty, gutsy, finishes every check and snipes too. Kassian who? Will be missed next year.  (Pete)

David Leggio (A- / B+)

  • Our team MVP, who was played too much and looked very ordinary at the end.  Maybe would have been in last without him, though. (Eric)
  • When he’s hot, untouchable. Average out the whole season, and though it wasn’t his fault (tired), we lost games because he wasn’t on. (Pete)

Brayden McNabb (A- / B-)

  • Dropped a bit in the playoffs, but appears ready for the NHL.  Very steady to the point you don’t notice him most of the time, which is great for D. (Eric)
  • I like steady and unnoticed, but with bigger guys I want more nasty. Much better than a Funk, Caruso, but Finley is more my kinda guy. (Pete)

Travis Turnbull (B+ / B)

  • Plays with old school jam.  Looked tired against Marlies.  Probably my favorite player. (Eric)
  • Watch him give a Rick Flair “WOOOOO” to the crowd after a fight during regular season finale. Classic. Fun to watch, great on faceoffs, and good bit o’ mean.  (Pete)

Corey Tropp (B+ / A)

  • Agitating and talented, looks ready to make the jump next season, maybe replacing Kaleta with more skill. (Eric)
  • There were times I couldn’t remember if he was a banger or a sniper. Very well-rounded, and when he and Foligno were paired I was on edge of my seat.  (Pete)

Evan Rankin (B+ / B-)

  • Productive and hustles.  Would like to see him for a full 80 games. (Eric)
  • Good skill, talented, not overly eye-catching but seems to have good hockey-sense.  (Pete)

Phil Varone (B+ / B+)

  • After a horrific start, he looks poised to be a 70+ point scorer next season.  Good playmaking and vision with the puck. (Eric)
  • As confidence grew so too did contributions. Watching him circle the net like a hawk to bang in a big playoff goal told me what I needed to know. (Pete)

Derek Whitmore (B+ / B)

  • The newest Mr. Amerk or will he leave for an outside shot at an NHL career.  28 goals and lots of heart.  Home towen boy made city proud?  (Eric)
  • Acknowledged playoff letdown and I give him credit for asking more of himself. After blow-up early in season, seemed to be told to keep emotions in check – would have liked a bit more edge but definitely proud of hometown kid reppin the crest. (Pete)

Colin Stuart (B+ / B+)

  • Best captain we’ve had since Dane Jackson.  Playoffs were disturbingly dissapointing, though. (Eric)
  • Seems like a great guy in the room, kept guys focused and at the core of the team’s determined, never-say-die attitude. (Pete)

Shaone Morrisson (B+ / A)

  • Gave us a steady 25 minutes a game.  Gave us some veteran poise back there.  Unfair criticism expected him to be a goal scorer down here or something. (Eric)
  • Very happy with his effort and big reason that I think this was our best group of D-men in over a decade. (Pete)

Paul Szczechura (B+ / B+)

  • A great #2 center at AHL level was asked to be #1 center, which he did accomplish at times after returning from injury.  (Eric)
  • Compact, speedy swingman with a gnarly nose for the net – epitomized by a big, late tying goal against Marlies in regular season. I’m still scratching my head. (Pete)

TJ Brennan (B+ / A)

  • He needed to produce O for us at times and maybe his D slipped, but he has serious skill and can play mean too.  NHL 3rd pairer or AHL stud? (Eric)
  • Great all around defenseman made me forget about Jason Garrison, which is saying a lot. MVP of Defense Corps by a longshot. (Pete)

Maxime Legault (B / C)

  • Provided energy and banging every shift he played with us. (Eric)
  • Solid 3rd or 4th line AHLer. (Pete)

Zack Kassian (B / C)

  • The talent was there, the tude maybe not always, but he did produce when he was here. (Eric)
  • Far too easily taken off his game – which was great when he was on it – but scouting reports travel quickly here. (Pete)
  • A lot of people disliked him for his lack of a physical game but the truth is he produced points when they were needed on offense when the team lacked offense. (Keith)

Alex Biega (B- / C+)

  • Huge goal in Glens Falls, decent AHL D, did wear down and make mistakes as season concluded.(Eric)
  • More than I expected for a little D man on what might have been our biggest D corps in a while too. (Pete)

Igor Gongalsky (C+ / B-)

  • Love the way he played up until March, then looked tired.  Willing to scrap for his teammates is admirable. (Eric)
  • Good energy when called upon, always happy to engage in fisticuffs, which I like. (Pete)

Nick Crawford (C+ / C-)

  • Looking forward to seeing him improve next season. (Eric)
  • Not pointing fingers, but let’s just say GWGs in playoff games 1+2 “exposed” his weak speed and strength.  (Pete)

Matt MacKenzie (C+ / C-)

  • I liked what I saw from him both on D and forward.  Very hard working. (Eric)
  • Indifferent. (Pete)

Mark Voakes (C+ / D-)

  • Good AHL 4th liner with better than average puck skills.  Not very productive, but solid in a checking role. (Eric)
  • Invisible toward end of season. (Pete)

Corey Fienhage (C / C-)

  • He could develop into a good AHL Dman. (Eric)
  • When asked, answered as best he could.  (Pete)

Jacob Lagace (D / D-)

  • I didn’t really love his game when he WAS scoring, and once he stopped he was pretty non-descript. (Pete)
  • Very exciting early on, teased at snipe-ability, then disappeared.  (Eric)

Luke Adam (D / D-)

  • HUGE game winner in Cleveland was lone bright spot.  He looked lost a lot of time.  With his shot and obvious talent he should return to being a PPG player next season with a #1 center. (Eric)
  • Obviously a huge disappointment production-wise, and unfortunately, as you could tell from post-Cleveland interviews, he needs to produce to be confident and have a good attitude. Vicious cycle. (Pete)

Drew Schiestel (D / C-)

  • I thought he was improving before he was moved.  Looked to finally be healthy. (Eric)
  • Fairly solid.  (Pete)

Drew MacIntyre (D / F)

  • He didn’t play well enough, especially for $200k. (Eric)
  • Under-used but unreliable. Another vicious cycle. But when the team needs you, and you can’t play, or won’t play, or you’re not even on the bench, or the coaches don’t trust you or who knows what else was going on – then your season is a FAIL. (Pete)

Shawn Szydlowski (D / D-)

  • I appreciate he’s willing to work, but he may not be cut out for the AHL. (Eric)
  • In retrospect, the article at the beginning of the season where Clubber hinted at calling him “Syd the Kid” could be quite the hilarious read right now.  (Pete)

Dennis Persson (D- / C-)

  • I don’t think he really wanted to be here? (Eric)
  • I was actually fine with him and didn’t think I would be. Played up when asked and filled holes okay. More phsyical than I expected. (Pete)

Jonathan Parker (F / D-)

  • NOT an AHL’er. (Eric)
  • Even his tweets are boring. (Pete)

Riley Boychuck (F / D-)

  • NOT an AHL’er.  (Eric)
  • Wish it was Johnny.  (Pete)

Coaching Staff – Ron Rolston, Jay McKee, Chadd Cassidy, Chris Taylor and Bob Janosz

  • I question why Dmac wasn’t kept sharp, but all-in-all I like that winning and playing the best players was valued over playing the guy with the 2-way.  I also like Rolston’s attitude and that he isn’t afraid of the rough stuff. (Eric)
  • The coaching staff did a good job with what they were given. This team never quit working at times they were being out played. Yes, part of that has to do with the attitude of the players but the staff also did a great job working with players individually to help them improve. Give the staff a group of quality players and they could do something. (Keith)

No grades for the following, didn’t play enough:  Brian Flynn, Kyle Bailey, Ryan Grimshaw, Daniel Catenacci, Jeff Jakitis, Kyle Bochek, Maury Edwards, Kyle Ostrow, Brock Matheson, Rob Bordson, Scott Campbell, Chris Clackson, Kevin Sundher, Connor Knapp