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We have hit the one quarter mark of the Hamilton Bulldogs season and the affiliate of the Habs is struggling to say the least. Through 19 games, they have posted a 6-11-1-1 record putting them last in the AHL's North Division. After looking at the goalies and defenceman in Part 1, the forwards get the spotlight.
Note: To be graded, each player must have played at least 8 games with Hamilton this season.
Philip DeSimone: A- For a player who just finished his NCAA career and settled for a minor league deal, he has come in and made a big impact on the Bulldogs in a hurry. He has been their top goal getter for most of the season and now finds himself more or less as the #1 centre. On the downside, his +/- is among the worst in all of the AHL.
Season Stats: 19 GP, 5-5-10, -10 rating, 22 PIMS, 28 SOG
Louis Leblanc: B+ Leblanc had a terrific start to the year before tailing off until the last few games. As is the case with most rookies, consistency is an issue, as is the fact that his most recent line, though being the only one scoring regularly, is also on for more goals than any other trio.
Season Stats: 14 GP, 4-6-10, -7 rating, 4 PIMS, 48 SOG
Brian Willsie: B- Yes, he leads the team in scoring but he was counted on to be a key scorer, not a guy who picks up secondary assists on a regular basis. As one of the highest paid forwards in the league, he needs to step it up and fast.
Season Stats: 19 GP, 3-9-12, -7 rating, 24 PIMS, 73 SOG
Michael Blunden: B- Though Blunden wasn't brought in to be a scorer, everyone hoped he'd have more than a single goal by now. He has, however, been helpful on the defensive and physical side of things, something Hab fans saw a glimpse of earlier this year.
Season Stats: 11 GP, 1-5-6, -2 rating, 12 PIMS, 27 SOG
Alexander Avtsin: C+ He was expected to be more of a regular producer in his second pro season but that hasn't really happened all that often yet. His intensity and attention to detail defensively continue to be sporadic. The tools are all there but he hasn't put it all together.
Season Stats: 19 GP, 2-5-7, -9 rating, 12 PIMS, 39 SOG
Dany Masse: C With all of the injuries and recalls, he has had a chance to take on more of an offensive role. The early results are so-so but given his junior scoring proficiency, there remains hope that he can get that element of his game back.
Season Stats: 19 GP, 4-2-6, -6 rating, 10 PIMS, 24 SOG
Andrew Conboy: C There were two elements I've been hoping he'd improve on this season. His offensive game (as where it is now isn't enough to hack it in the NHL) and cutting down on the stupid penalties. The former hasn't happened but the latter has been slightly improved at least.
Season Stats: 10 GP, 1-0-1, -2 rating, 12 PIMS, 13 SOG
Olivier Fortier: C After coming back from injury (a phrase we've heard far too often with him), he got off to a strong start, making an immediate impact on the scoresheet. Since then, that part of his game has been non-existent though he has been decent defensively. And, of course, he's now hurt again.
Season Stats: 11 GP, 3-1-4, -5 rating, 0 PIMS, 21 SOG
Joonas Nattinen: C Although the Finnish centre was bounced back and forth through the lineup and press box, he is starting to become more comfortable out there and is adjusting to the pace of the game. I think he'll take on more and more responsibility as the year wears on.
Season Stats: 15 GP, 1-3-4, -6 rating, 6 PIMS, 18 SOG
Gabriel Dumont: C- After a strong preseason, he has been largely a non-factor when healthy. He still plays a feisty game and doesn't back down but has been unable to provide any sort of consistent offensive play, something that the Bulldogs are counting on him to do.
Season Stats: 10 GP, 1-0-1, -4 rating, 15 PIMS, 20 SOG
Phillipe Lefebvre: C- Admittedly, I didn't think he'd do anything for Hamilton this year, in large part due to my thinking he'd be in Wheeling. He hasn't been entirely a liability out there which is better than what I figured he'd do.
Season Stats: 17 GP, 1-1-2, -4 rating, 4 PIMS, 24 SOG
Ian Schultz: D+ After a rough rookie year, it was hoped he'd step it up in all facets of the game. Instead, it's pretty much been same old, same old. And, like a lot of the team, he's hurt on top of things, stalling his development even further.
Season Stats: 8 GP, 1-0-1, -1 rating, 9 PIMS, 5 SOG
Alain Berger: F When he was signed, he was supposed to be a power forward. About the only true statement in that scouting report is that he is a forward as he brings no offensive or physical game to the table. As players get healthy, he needs to be ECHL bound.
Season Stats: 17 GP, 0-1-1, -8 rating, 8 PIMS, 19 SOG
- Bulldogs First Quarter Grades: Goalies and Defence posted by B. La Rose