By Scott McLaughlin, Cary Betagole and Jake Seiner/DFP Staff
Note: Grades are based on how each player’s performance thus far compares to what our expectations were for him before the season, with an ‘A’ exceeding expectations, a ‘B’ meeting expectations and a ‘C’ or ‘D’ being below expectations. Players are listed in numerical order.
Eric Gryba: B
Parker has repeatedly singled out Gryba as the only returning defenseman who has met preseason expectations. He’s been BU’s most physical blue-liner, and he’s done the best job of keeping guys in front of him, getting in passing and shooting lanes, and not turning the puck over on breakouts. He also leads the team in penalty minutes, though.
Kevin Shattenkirk: C
The junior captain leads the Terriers in points (14) and has done a very good job jumping up on rushes and quarterbacking the power play. However, he has regressed defensively. He’s been closer to the freshman who struggled 1-on-1 than the sophomore who rarely let anyone beat him, and he’s been plagued by bad breakout passes that have been easily intercepted. Also, as captain, at least some of the blame for the team’s attitude and focus issues has to fall on his shoulders.
Ryan Ruikka: Incomplete
Ruikka tore his ACL and meniscus before the season even started and will not play this year.
David Warsofsky: B+
In games that he’s played defense and been healthy (he missed three games with a hip injury, played through it in another and played forward for two games), he’s been arguably BU’s best player. He’s been solid defensively and he’s done a good job starting rushes, both with his passing and his skating. His plus-3 rating puts him second behind Bonino and makes him the only defenseman in positive numbers.
Joe Pereira: A
Pereira has undoubtedly been the Terriers’ most improved player this season. He’s exceeded expectations no matter where Parker has put him –– first line, third line, power play, penalty kill. He’s consistently shown the most effort and hustle, and he’s learned how to control his abundance of energy and not take penalties –– he has just one this season.
Max Nicastro: B
Nicastro has provided plenty of glimpses at the talent that made him a third-round pick in 2008. His physicality and brutish defense, combined with a good deal of offensive promise, provide reason to think he could someday be a star in Hockey East. Right now, though, he still turns the puck over a little too much to warrant a higher grade.
Ben Rosen: Incomplete
Rosen has recorded no points and a minus-2 rating in six games. He’s looked pretty good in his limited time, as he’s shown the ability to play solid defense and jump in on the rush. He’s not very physical, though, and he needs to get stronger on his skates if he wants to earn more playing time.
Alex Chiasson: B
Chiasson got off to a fast start with four goals in his first seven collegiate games, but has failed to find the back of the net in his last six games entering the break. Part of that slump can be blamed on some noticeable hesitancy to get physical following a chin injury suffered in practice in mid-November and a bout with the flu in late November.
Corey Trivino: C+
Trivino is tied for third on the team with 10 points (3g, 7a), but he still hasn’t performed at the level you would expect a second-round NHL pick to perform at. His vision and passing have definitely improved from last season to this season, but he still isn’t physical enough and he still doesn’t go to the net enough.
Zach Cohen: C
The senior forward experienced a career renaissance of sorts last season. But this year, he has hurt more than he’s helped en route to a team-worst minus-12 rating.
Chris Connolly: B+
Connolly was “snake-bitten” earlier this season by Parker’s account, but he’s broken out of that funk in the last month and a half and now has five goals and 12 points, both good for second on the team.
Nick Bonino: B-
A shoulder injury interrupted the encore to this junior’s 50-point 2008-09 season, but he’s shown signs of returning to form with a goal in each of the Terriers’ past two games. His 0.91 points per game average and plus-4 rating are tops on the team.
Andrew Glass: B-
After proving himself a prolific scorer at the prep level, he has no goals and just one assist in his second season with the Terriers.
Ryan Santana: B-
Santana’s energy has been useful in sparking rushes, but he’s also prone to making freshman mistakes.
Kevin Gilroy: C+
Gilroy has been given ample opportunity to contribute offensively, but hasn’t done much to prove he deserves to be anything other than a fourth-liner.
Victor Saponari: Incomplete
Saponari has appeared in just three games this season.
Wade Megan: B-
Megan made an impact early on, stringing together solid shifts as the center of the third line, but he’s been largely silent the past few weeks.
Justin Courtnall: B
Courtnall’s been the enforcer this team needs him to be, but his game hasn’t shown enough versatility to merit a higher grade.
Sean Escobedo: B
Escobedo has lived up to his reputation as a physical, stay-at-home defenseman. The freshman has laid a number of big hits, especially around his own blue line, and has proven athletic enough to handle the position at the collegiate level. Like the entire defense, Escobedo has occasionally been caught in poor position. But for a freshman, he has stepped in and exceeded, or at the very least met, expectations all season.
Ross Gaudet: A-
The sophomore made his collegiate debut on Oct. 30 against UMass-Lowell, and has since made himself a staple on the Terrier roster sheet. Gaudet appears to have embraced his role as a checking-line player, and though he is arguably the Terriers’ most aggressive hitter, he has seldom been overaggressive and whiffed on a big hit when he should be playing it safe.
Colby Cohen: D+
Cohen is an absolute weapon on the power play –– Cornell coach Mike Schafer constructed his entire penalty-killing unit around eliminating Cohen’s NHL-ready slap shot. However, Cohen has, if anything, taken a step backward when it comes to defensive responsibility, and has often created chances for opponents with careless passing. In the end, seven points (3g, 4a) in 15 games simply isn’t enough production to overlook Cohen’s poor defensive play and minus-10 rating.
Luke Popko: C+
Popko has been one of BU’s top faceoff men, winning 114-of-220 draws (51.8%), and has continued to prove himself one of the Terriers’ best penalty killers. The Terriers are killing 83.3 percent of opposing power plays, and as the quarterback of the PK, Popko deserves credit for BU’s staunch man-down play. However, he has tallied just two assists and has been dropped from fill-in first-line center earlier this season to permanent third/fourth-line center.
Vinny Saponari: C
Saponari is tied for third on the team with 10 points (3g, 7a) through 16 games, and has at times been one of BU’s better players on the ice. At the same time, Saponari has not taken the big step forward Parker had hoped he might as a second-line winger. The sophomore has been much better over the last month or so after a tough start, but if the Terriers are going to make a second-half run in Hockey East, Saponari is going to have to be one of their best players on a night-in, night-out basis.
Kieran Millan: D+
Millan has been great at times for the Terriers, including outstanding performances against Michigan and No. 5 Boston College. With the good has come plenty of bad, however, as inconsistent play has Millan entering the break with an .862 save percentage and a 3.52 goals-against average. Millan suffered a similar sophomore slump while playing juniors at Spruce Grove, but rebounded nicely then, and could do the same for BU this spring.
Adam Kraus: C+
Kraus has only seen 17 minutes in goal, where he stopped 11-of-12 shots after relieving Millan against Merrimack. There is a notable talent disparity between Kraus and the sophomore goalies, but Kraus is, by all accounts, a great teammate and a hard worker, and received praise from Parker for “competing hard” against Merrimack. Parker says Kraus will be given an equal shot at playing time in the second half, but we have heard that before, as Parker said the same thing at the beginning of the season.
Grant Rollheiser: C-
Parker entered the year figuring he’d have one of the nation’s top goaltending tandems in Rollheiser and Millan, but neither has met expectations. In four starts since returning from a high-ankle sprain suffered just before the season started, Rollheiser has posted an .870 save percentage and a 3.07 GAA. Rollheiser has proven susceptible to soft first-period goals, but has also rebounded well from those tallies. Rollheiser doesn’t have the same fluidity and rebound control that Millan has flashed, but is plenty athletic and, at 6-foot-4, has the build to become an NHL netminder. Rollheiser still has a ways to go in his development, but with some minor improvements to his positioning and rebound control, he could easily improve to get some revenge on Millan and steal away late-season playing time from his roommate.