Thursday, April 2, 2009

Northeastern Report Card

As a little of the sting from the Cornell/Lowell games wears off, it's time to look at the players' performances. Seniors are at the top, then the rest of the players. If a player logged few to no minutes this season, or if I don't remember his play, he's listed in the incomplete section at the bottom.


#3 Ryan Ginand - 20-12-32 - [A-] Ginand has been a productive player throughout his tenure at Northeastern. His willingness to shoot was unmatched, and this enthusiasm for goal-scoring was particularly apparent this season, as he led the team in goals with 20. Something of a liability defensively, Ginand was nevertheless an extremely important player for the Huskies this season, picking up a lot of the scoring lost from Russo and helping recover points Vitale had provided in the past. Ginand picks up an A- only because he faded down the stretch, with most of his scoring coming earlier in the season. He finishes his career as a second-team All-Star.

#5 - A - Louis Liotti - 4-9-13 - +11 - [A] Liotti, often called the ironman of the Huskies, played 146 games in red and black. His career plus/minus rating is +16, indicative of his stalwart presence on the Husky blue line and capable play on the offensive end. Although never an offensive weapon, he did score the first NCAA tournament goal for the Huskies since 1994 and generally improved the play of the defensemen he played with. Liotti's production on the defensive end will be difficult to replace. He was named Hockey East's best defensive defenseman.

#12 - A - Dennis McCauley - 6-5-11 - [C+] Dennis never really reached his potential, and it's hard to tell why. He owns an incredibly heavy slapshot, but never developed the extra speed gear of his fellow classmates, and his offensive production suffered as a result. However, his energy and defense of his teammates on the ice was respected around the league, but not by the officials, who had McCauley in the box 103 times for 266 minutes in his career. McCauley realized his role as a senior and had his best season since his freshman year while putting up the fewest PIM's (49) of his career.

#24 - A - Denis Chisholm - 1-4-5 - +2 - [B+] Denis scored only 4 goals in his career as a Husky, but 3 of those goals were game-winners. Decidedly a stay-at-home defenseman, Chisholm provided stability on the blue line while contributing his share of clutch goals. His name is clearly spelled wrong, but he's Canadian, so there's not a lot you can do. Also gets extra credit for majoring in mechanical engineering.

#26 - C - Joe Vitale - 7-20-27 - [A-] Joe had a monster junior year, throwing his very good senior stats into a little doubt. However, it's important to note that Vitale has been Northeastern's best player since his freshman year and typically earned the strongest defensive player from the opponents. While his scoring was down this year, he managed to become a defensive wizard, particularly on the penalty kill, posting a +7 plus/minus, the highest of his career. He earned Hockey East Best Defensive Forward honors, but still chipped in 27 points, good for third on the team. Vitale's speed, puckhandling, and leadership will be sorely missed, but he is likely to spend some time with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in the near future.

#37 Rob Rassey - 8-4-12 - [A] Frankly, nobody expected Rassey to do much of anything this season. He responded by scoring more goals (8) than he had in his previous three years combined (5). He made the most of his shot attempts with a .276 shooting percentage, easily the highest of his career, and provided critical offense to help lost production while scoring two gamewinning goals.


#4 Jim Driscoll - 1-5-6 - +14 - [B] The most stay-at-home of the many stay-at-home Husky defensemen, Driscoll earned a plus/minus rating of +14, easily eclipsing his career high of +2. His frank inability to hit an open net turned a likely win into a tie at UNH, but his steady defensive presence typically made up for his lack of offensive prowess. He makes good decisions when moving the puck out of the zone and is a good penalty killer. His true test comes next season as the most seasoned defenseman on the team...he must be able to provide stability and leadership.

#6 David Strathman - 2-17-19 - +7 - [B+] Easily the most effective offensive weapon on the Husky blue line, Strathman racked up assists by willingly shooting the puck on the power play, one of the few Huskies to buy into the "assists via rebound are still assists" philosophy. More prone to defensive lapses than the other d-men, Strathman's puck movement on the power play was typically the best of the defensemen, somewhat covering up his moderate liability on the defensive end. He picked up his first positive plus/minus of his career with a +7 this season.

#8 JP Maley - 1-3-4 - +4 - [B] Maley played in only 20 games, but was far more visible than Dan Nycholat, the player he seemingly replaced in the lineup. Much like the last player to wear #8 in Bryan Esner, Maley is a fast, small player. He, like most freshmen, is prone to errors in the defensive zone and will need to improve his puckhandling and decision making to maintain his status in the starting lineup. However, he improved throughout the season, posting a respectable +4 rating. His lack of size must be mitigated by an extremely effective forecheck or, perhaps, a touch of offense.

#10 Steve Quailer - 10-15-25 - [A] Quailer is the most exciting player to take the ice since Joe Vitale, and stands a real chance at becoming a dominant offensive force in Hockey East. His speed, puckhandling, and quick, accurate shot place him in the upper echelon of HEA forwards. When he uses his extra gear, something he struggled with early on, he has lethal offensive weapons and his size makes him particularly useful along the boards and in front of the net. I won't be surprised when he gets called to the pros before his senior year concludes. The only things separating Quailer from guaranteed dominance is about 15 pounds and the proper mindset.

#13 Randy Guzior - 2-3-5 - [C-] A disappointing junior season for Guzior, who lost playing time thanks to poor production. After scoring 16 points as a sophomore, his junior year netted only 5 points and 14 fewer games. With Dennis McCauley graduating, he'll likely become a fourth-line forward to bring energy and a scoring touch, even if that scoring touch seems to have escaped his skillset this season. His game-tying goal with 25.8 seconds remaining against Boston College in the penultimate Hockey East game saved his season.

#16 Kyle Kraemer - 2-6-8 - [C+] After an awful sophomore year followed an exellent freshman year, Kraemer chose the middle ground during his junior campaign. His scoring reflected his greatly reduced playing time, but his late-season heroics (both goals were playoff goals) seems to prove his worthiness to the coaching staff. He will have to fight for playing time next year, but has the talent to make the starting lineup with some offseason work.

#17 Steve Silva - 4-16-20 - [B-] Silva brings a lot of value to the team, but his injury frequency has moved from irritating to alarming. When on the ice, he is a skilled passer and provides scoring and stability from the center position. However, he seemed less visible on the ice this season for reasons I can't really explain, and he needs to learn discipline on the ice to keep his team off the penalty kill. If this season was his peak, it will be extremely disappointing, but he has the talent to jump to the next level.

#18 Mike McLaughlin - 6-5-11 - [B+] I'm pretty excited about seeing McLaughlin for an entire season. He's got offensive skills and a hard, accurate shot. He's a poor forechecker, but if he can improve defensively, will be one of the better two-way players on the team.

#19 Wade MacLeod - 14-21-35 - [A] If this was Wade's sophomore slump, his junior year should be epic. MacLeod is highly effective on the power play and capable of taking over a game offensively. His injury during the Cornell game did nothing but hurt the Huskies. The team's leading scorer with 35 points, MacLeod produces regardless of his linemates, and will be the team's top forward next season. If only he would wear his equipment properly.

#22 Greg Costa - 8-8-16 - [B+] Costa is one of those pesky short guys who somehow outhustles everybody else on the ice, earning his points in the most blue-collar of ways. Paired with Donovan, Costa provides a serious spark on the third line, often energizing the team with surprisingly big hits and a surprisingly accurate shot. He scored more goals this season (8) than in his first two years combined (6).

#23 Chris Donovan - 8-11-19 - [A-] Call me crazy, but I think one of the biggest reasons for this team's marked improvement over last year was Chris Donovan. Much like Costa, he's too small to be good, and yet, there he is with 19 points, more than his first two years combined (14). Donovan is not a sniper, and he sometimes fools himself into believing he is, but when he plays hard along the boards, makes some big hits, and scrambles for rebounds, he can be Northeastern's best player.

#27 Alex Tuckerman - 8-14-22 - [A] There's a reason Tuckerman played 40 games as a freshman: He's really good. Probably the most effective physical presence the Huskies have, he provided a great, accurate shot with power play prowess (alliteration!) and countless highlight-reel hits. Likely due to regress a bit his sophomore season, he has the talent to avoid serious decline and become another huge offensive weapon for the Huskies. His defense leaves something to be desired.

#28 Mike Hewkin - 1-6-7 - 0 - [C] Hewkin never looks as confident behind his own net as you would really want. He has a hard shot, but never seems to get the puck on net. He's an average defensive d-man and a below-average offensive threat. He must be doing something right, though, as he played 37 games this season. Very average, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

#39 Brad Thiessen - .931 - 2.12 - [A-] I know what you're saying. A minus? For a guy whose number is already in the rafters at Matthews? For a guy who probably stole 5 games for the Huskies this season? For Northeastern's first legitimate Hobey Baker prospect in years? Well, yes, and I've detailed why before. Thiessen is quickly turning into the best goalie Northeastern has ever had, and his fundamentally sound play and frequent brilliant stops on breakaways and scrums is nothing short of pro-worthy. But until he carries the team to a major victory (Beanpot final, HE final, NCAA tourney), he will not have earned the plus next to his grade that he probably deserves. It's not really fair, but hey, neither is life. I'll be extremely annoyed if he leaves before he wins one of those big games, but he's got the talent to succeed at the next level.

#94 - A - Tyler McNeely - 8-12-20 - [B+] Slowed by injuries this year, Tyler played through most of them and still made a significant contribution on both ends of the ice. He brings physicality and scoring touch to any line, and this versatility is likely what earned him the A on his jersey. He combines with MacLeod to form one of the most dynamic pairs of forwards in the league. If he avoids injury next season, he will be one of NU's best players.


#2 Andrew Linard

#7 Dan Nycholat - Played in more games than Maley without me remembering him. That can't be good.

#9 Jacques Perreault - Big, but never really learned how to use his size. Didn't play this season.

#15 Matt Quigley

#29 Matt Lipinski

#30 Mike Binnington - Probably hopes Thiessen leaves.

#31 Ryan Mula - Still has solid red pads and a white mask. Probably hopes Binnington leaves.

#32 Dylan Wiwchar

#33 Mike Decosta - Probably hopes Mula leaves.

Class average: 3.22 (B+)

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