With the regular season all nice and wrapped up, and a division championship as the cherry on top, did our players make or break the grade in Professor Miyakusu’s class?
Second opinions by Mile High Sticking’s own Payton Bartee.
Patrick Bordeleau: B-
Bordeleau, as an enforcer, hasn’t been doing his primary job lately. With only 6 fights on the season, he has developed more into a hockey player and strayed away from the “dumb goon” stereotype. He has great hands, a great on the forecheck, and isn’t a defensive liability. If he could improve his skating, he could develop into quite the grinder.
Second opinion: Can’t disagree here, but I would give management a D for his contract extension.
Paul Carey: C+
Brought up as a temporary solution to our injury woes, Carey has just been average. He is an amazing skater and has used his speed to create great chances for himself and his line mates. He has yet to score his first NHL point in 11 games.
Second opinion: A C+ seems about right, though I don’t know if we’ve seen enough of Carey to give him an adequate grade. I’d technically call this an INC.
Marc-Andre Cliche: A
The Avs picked Cliche up on waivers from the LA Kings earlier in the season. He was expecting to play in Lake Erie, but since then, he has proved to be a great pickup. Anchoring our penalty kill and playing great defensively, Cliche has been a perfect 4th line center for the team.
Second opinion: Wholeheartedly agree with this grade. Cliche has been a tremendous pick-up for the Avs’ forward units; he understands his role on the team and is very valuable on the PK.
Matt Duchene: A-
Duchene has been scoring at an expected point-per-game pace since the beginning of the season. Being unbelievably clutch at times, he has pulled his grade down by being very streaky. If he would be able to solve his consistency issues, he would be well over PPG.
Second opinion: This is a tough one, but I agree with you. Duchene clearly made an offensive leap this season, and you are dead-on about his clutch performances throughout the season. But any Avs fan will tell you his long goal-drought was odd; at least he kept the helpers coming.
Gabriel Landeskog: B+
In what could be considered his breakout season, Landeskog scored 65 points in 81 games this season. Not only has his scoring spiked, he is also finally playing like the power forward he is. He is using his size and strength to drive to the net and knocking over whoever is in his way.
Second opinion: Interesting season for the Captain. He also had a pretty sizable offensive leap and established himself as a premier power forward. There were nights he just seemed to disappear, though, and that’s very strange for a team this talented. This grade feels just right; here’s hoping he bumps it up to an A next season.
Nathan MacKinnon: A+
Who realistically expected this guy to score 63 points? Many fans predicted he would win the Calder, but pulling this far away from the pack? There is no one who will tell you Mac doesn’t deserve it (besides a few select Lightning and Pens fans ; ) )
Second opinion: MacKinnon was a nothing short of incredible all season long. The only stretch he genuinely looked like an 18-year-old rookie was the first few weeks of the season. He has elements of so many playmakers around the NHL, it will be a whole lot of fun to watch him develop.
Brad Malone: B
I’m glad Malone is the first to get called up when we need to fill a roster spot and hopefully he has a permanent spot next season. He is a nightmare on the forecheck, he hits everything that moves, and knows his role on the team. I wish he was able to score a tiny bit more though, with only 4 points in 32 games.
Second opinion: Love Malone, and a B doesn’t feel too high given the energy he provides to the bottom six.
Jamie McGinn: B-
Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Jamie McGinn fan. He stands up for his teammates, has scored some clutch goals, and 40 points is nothing to sneeze at.
Second opinion: McGinn’s scoring touch and ability to blend in with a variety of teammates surprised me this season. I’m fine with anything in the B-range. But why do I feel like he’s going to want way more money than he’s worth this summer?
Cody McLeod: A
McLeod has earned his “A” both in my books and in the organization. Many fans were confused when he named as one of the alternate captains at the beginning of the season, but he has really stepped up to the plate. He does his job perfectly. Agitating and great on the PK. He picked up the goal scoring late in the season as well.
Second opinion: Very impressed with McLeod this year. He’s just what the doctor ordered in our bottom six and helps protect our offensive assets.
John Mitchell: D
Fresh off of a new 3 year deal, Mitchell has fallen out of favor for me. He turns the puck over too much for comfort. That paired with the refusal to pass, his only redeeming qualities are his hands and defensive zone play.
Second opinion: We will have to agree to disagree here–I currently have a fairly large mancrush on Mitchell. He’s like a poor man’s Chris Drury (I hope I don’t get stoned for that one)! He is consistently in the right place to make a play and contributes in both ends, but you are right about the turnovers. I’d give him a B+, and I’m glad they locked him up pretty cheap.
Ryan O’Reilly: A
30 goals? 0 penalty minutes in 70 something games? Leading the league in takeaways? He won’t win the Selke, but he should. He is a must-keep over the offseason.
Second opinion: A++++. The move to LW has redefined ROR’s career, and he deserves a ton of credit for his willingness to transition from third center to top-six winger. We all knew his defensive prowess, but you could make a case for him being the best goal-scorer on the team this year. MUST re-sign him this summer…get on it, Joe.
PA Parenteau: C
He was scoring at a .611 PPG pace to start the season, but injuries and average play in the latter half of the season has landed him a C.
Second opinion: Got to be honest here, I’m not the biggest Parenteau fan. He can’t keep up with our speedy forwards, he can’t stay healthy like he did with the Islanders, and now he’s a tad overpaid given his production. C-
Paul Stastny: B+
Preforming in contract years is nothing new, but I would attribute Stastny’s bounceback season to a coach that isn’t Joe Sacco. He has been a perfect 2nd line center. Whether he gets re-signed this offseason or not, he has definitely redeemed himself this year.
Second opinion: Stastny has been huge for our team this season. He’s one of the elder statesmen on the team (that’s funny given he’s only 28), but his maturity and stability on and off the ice have been admirable. He contributes in all facets of the game and is very reliable with his offensive production. A-
Max Talbot: B+
Setting a career high for assists, a pest, and being great on the penalty kill all work in favor for Talbot. His playoff experience is going to be vital to the Avs’ success in the playoffs. Plus he has a great contract. That helps too.
Ryan Wilson: C
Wilson has been decent when he’s played on the 4th line. Play 5 minutes a night, hit some guys, pass the puck. Pretty easy night if you ask me.
Second opinion: Not a Wilson fan at all, could be a buy-out candidate this summer. D
Tyson Barrie: A
No one could predict Barrie would be having a whale of a season. His PPG ratio would suggest he has developed into a premier offensive defenseman, and I’m likely to agree. No one in the league has been more clutch than Tyson Barrie. 5 GWG, countless game tying goals with many of them coming in the final minutes of the 3rd period. Check out this article for more on my thoughts about Barrie.
Second opinion: Wholeheartedly agree with this grade. Tyson the Destroyer has been one of THE most valuable members of the team this season. Great write-up on Barrie, Blaise.
Andre Benoit: B
Benoit has been a great free agent pick up for us. Great offensively, has held his own defensively, and has made numerous clutch plays in his own zone.
Second opinion: No argument here, Benoit came into this season as an unknown, but Roy trusts him out there.
Nate Guenin: C
Average. A perfect word to describe Guenin. He needs to be meaner in the corners and has made a lot of defensive blunders.
Second opinion: Average grade for an average player…I like it.
Jan Hejda: C
A tale of two seasons for Hejda. He started the season off great, leading the league in +/- and just playing great defense in general. Lately though, he’s been lost in front of his own net and has turned the puck over way more than he should. His turn over per $100,00 isn’t a pleasing number.
Second opinion: You’re spot-on about Hejda’s perplexing season, and given his age, the Avs have to hope it’s not a sign of his decline.
Nick Holden: B-
$600,000. That is what we are paying for this guy, and he deserves quadruple that. He’s gotten better over time. He is great on the powerplay
Second opinion: Awww, just a B-? Holden is my defensive mancrush, and I’d be willing to bump this up a full letter grade. He’s only played since November, his point production is staggering, and he’s only improved with time. GREAT discovery by the Avs brass.
Erik Johnson: A
Johnson is having a breakout season and finally starting to live up to his potential. He’s extremely tough to play against in the corners thanks to a certain Adam Foote’s coaching. That, paired with great offensive instincts has allowed Johnson to emerge as our top defenseman.
Second opinion: This is a perfect grade. The adage of defensemen taking the longest to develop is often true, but the Avalanche are reaping the benefits of Johnson finally realizing all that potential. He has been a leader on the back end, steadied his offensive production, and been our most consistent defenseman all season long.
Cory Sarich: D
Sarich has been injured a few times this season, been a healthy scratch at others. He’s been decent when he’s in the line up, but the negatives outweigh the positives.
Second opinion: Yep. Father Time has come calling for Mr. Sarich. He’s just a little too old and too slow to contribute to our defense at this stage of his career.
Ryan Wilson: D
Keep him at forward. Wilson has just looked plain bad when playing defense. Looking lost in his own zone and just been soft overall.
Second opinion: See my comment above…get ‘em outta here.
Reto Berra: F
The only failing grade on the team. A bit unfair since I only have a limited sample size, but the 2 games he started were awful. Hopefully Francois Allaire can work with him this summer to turn him into a serviceable backup.
Second opinion: At first I thought it’s too early to flunk Mr. Berra, but given that we gave up a 2nd rounder for him, I’m okay with it. He looked terrible in every game for us, and didn’t exactly set the hockey world on fire between the pipes in Calgary. The Avalanche better pray Roy & Allaire work their magic with Berra like they did with Varly.
JS Giguere: C+
Giguere has been a great backup for us over the few years he has played for us. He had a bad stretch of games from January to March, but he has been great since.
Second opinion: This grade is just right. Up and down season for the spry veteran, but it looks like the end of the line for him with Berra in the fold (gulp).
Semyon Varlamov: A+
Varlamov will be top 5 in Vezina voting. He will be a contender for the Hart. He is the team MVP. He is the reason we won the division. The best part about this entire season. No one expected him to step up to elite status at the beginning of the season, yet here his is. And we couldn’t be more happy.
Second opinion: *Chanting loudly* VAR-LY! VAR-LY! VAR-LY! Agree with everything here.
Disagree with me or Payton? Let us know in the comments!