First half in review: Midseason Player Grades

With the second half of the season kicking off on Thursday, we took some time to reflect on the year up to this point. We’ll have a couple more things coming out later this week, but for today, we present to you: first-half grades!

There’s really no scientific accuracy to our grading scale, but the three of us (Sarah, Judy and Andrew) each compared our individual grades for each player. The grades you see below are the rough average of our three grades.

Statistics were a factor, but we also considered expectations entering the season, improvement from last season and off-ice intangibles in our grades. We’ve also taken time to explain why we gave the grades we did, which you can read more in-depth below.

Feel free to debate, agree/disagree or otherwise discuss our grades in the comments below! We’d love to hear what you guys think.

Forwards:

Robbie Baillargeon:
B
Baillargeon hasn’t quite had the offensive improvement yet this year that we might’ve expected, but he hasn’t made any game-altering mistakes either. He’s an extremely conservative player, but that’s probably been one of his biggest downfalls so far. He played much more aggressively and physically against Quinnipiac in the final game before break, which I think is a good glimpse into his potential. If he continues that play through the second half, that would be a huge and necessary boost for the team. — SK

Bobo Carpenter: B+
Well, to quote A.J. Greer, “he wins draws.” Carpenter looks much more comfortable at center than at wing, and has looked more calm and refined in recent games. If anything, he’s looked overeager at times, but that’ll improve with maturity as the season continues. — SK

Ryan Cloonan: B+
For me, at least, Cloonan is hands down the biggest surprise this season. He wasn’t the most heralded member of BU’s freshman class coming in, but he had an absolutely remarkable start to the season, earning himself a top-six position. He’s quick and crafty, and though he’s quieted a bit after his strong start, he’s still added an element that this offense might have otherwise been missing. — SK

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson:
A-
One of the most engaging players on the ice wherever he is, Forsbacka Karlsson is a competent, two-way center who contributes in all facets of the game. Whether it’s at even strength or on special teams, he’s incredibly deft with his stick, no matter the zone, and makes at least one play a game that leaves me just shaking my head. For me, the freshman has probably been my favorite player to watch so far this season. —JC

Jordan Greenway:
B/B+
Greenway started out on the first line in the first few games of the season, but he never really found a rhythm. Even with a bump down to the second unit, he still just lacked the touch to finish plays. Quinn noted a few times Greenway was missing a “killer instinct.” Like a lot of young power forwards, the freshman has taken time to adjust to the more physical college game, but ever since Red Hot Hockey against then-No. 16 Cornell University, Greenway has picked his play up a notch or two. He finished the first half strong with six points in the final five games, and his use of the body to protect the puck, especially below the goal line, is what really stood out. He’s my player to watch in terms of stepping up in the second half. — AB

A.J. Greer: C+
It seemed like everyone was waiting for the moment for Greer to break out. Would it be the one-time strike against the University of North Dakota in the Frozen Four? Or maybe the goal he had at this year’s Red Hot Hockey? Neither of those moments, or any others for that matter, proved to be the one that got Greer going. Whether or not the Kimball Union Academy product wasn’t a good fit in BU’s system is beside the point. He got time toward the end of his tenure on the Terriers’ first line, but never played above the level of a fourth-liner. His final point total speaks for itself — 17 points in 55 NCAA games. He left the team and put BU in a tough position. He’s a young and promising player, but it’s hard to find a positive with a player who does that. — AB

Tommy Kelley: B
Kelley hasn’t had a ton of time in the lineup this year and shouldered his way in mostly due to necessity with injuries, but the junior has definitely made the most of it. In his six games suiting up, he stayed on pucks and worked hard up and down the ice, even netting his first goal in almost two years during the team’s loss to the University of Vermont on Dec. 4. — JC

Matt Lane: A-
It’s been thrilling to see how much Lane has really come through during his senior year. He’s tied for a team-best plus-10, and has already matched his goal total from last season (eight). Lane also gets personality points from us — not really in the “we think he’s a good guy” sense (though he is), but it’s clear that his attitude has a positive impact on this team. We have a joke about how we feel like we only talk to Lane after the team loses, but whether post-victory or post-loss, Lane is always positive yet realistic. He’s a mature, calming presence that this young team needs, especially on the ice in the absence of Grzelcyk. — SK

Dillon Lawrence: Incomplete
It was nice to see him get a bit of playing time against Quinnipiac, and he didn’t look half bad, either. I’m not sure how much more we’ll see him out on the ice this year, particularly considering BU’s brought in second-half reinforcements at forward, but Quinn mentioned after the Quinnipiac game that he’s been playing well in practice — though added that he may lack some confidence. He’s a perfectly fine player, though, and if he keeps building up the confidence he needs to earn playing time, then that’s all the better. — SK

Mike Moran:
B
A guy that’s never going to light up the stat sheet, Moran has done probably what you would’ve expected going into the season as the team’s fourth-line center. He brings a good energy to the game and is a strong veteran presence to have on the penalty kill. It’d be nice to see him tally or goal here or there, but that’s not what you have him out there for. — AB

Danny O’Regan: A-
He started the year off as the team’s first-line center, taking over for the departed Jack Eichel, but O’Regan has found a home on the wing. It never seems to be flashy, but O’Regan remains an important contributor to the offense. His team-leading 19 points are tied for sixth in Hockey East, while his 10 power-play points are tied for fourth in the conference. It’ll be paramount for BU to have O’Regan continue to play well, particularly depending on injured players’ post-break prognosis. — AB

Ahti Oksanen:
A-
Last year, it took until BU’s 18th game for Oksanen to score his ninth goal. Through 18 games this year, Oksanen has nine goals. A lot of the talk before this season was that Oksanen’s numbers would decline with Eichel going to the NHL. But his 16 points say otherwise. He doesn’t have the best hands and isn’t close to being the fastest skater on the team, but his ability to shoot the puck is unmatched on this team. It’s hard to find someone better than he is on one-timers for BU. The only concern is the upper-body injury that he suffered against then-No. 2 Quinnipiac University. While a source told the blog before the break the team was hopeful for his return on Jan. 7, it’s unclear as of yet whether he’ll actually be ready. — AB

Nikolas Olsson: B
If Red Hot Hockey taught us anything, it’s that Olsson can change the entire makeup of a line. Slotted in on freshman center Bobo Carpenter’s right, the sophomore tallied helpers on each of the two goals his linemates scored during the evening. Olsson brings a physical presence to the game but also has a level of skill that gives him the ability to generate legitimate chances on net. However, upper-body injuries following hits he’s thrown have caused him to miss a total of seven games this season, including the most recent three before the break. As soon as that line that was so successful against Cornell started gelling, he was out again in the following game against the University of Vermont. Physicality is obviously an important element of his game, but it’s also gotten in his way thus far. — JC

Chase Phelps: B
No real complaints concerning Phelps’ play in his sophomore season, and he’s even been given more responsibility as a regular on the penalty killing unit so far. With some line shuffling during Connecticut weekend, the winger was tasked with jumping up a spot or two and performed admirably in a tough situation as well. — JC

Nick Roberto: Incomplete
We won’t see him this season, as the team announced his suspension for the remainder of the year due to an investigation of gambling activity. — SK

Defensemen:

Brien Diffley: B-/B
It’s been an odd year for Diffley. He was a staple on defense last season, pairing with Somerby just about every game. Before this year, he was considered by some scouts to be a potential 2015 NHL draft pick. With freshman Charlie McAvoy emerging, though, it’s been harder for Diffley to find a permanent role on the D corps. He’s been in and out of the lineup, even shuffling to forward for a game when BU found itself shorthanded. Instability aside, Diffley hasn’t been too bad, but hasn’t done all that much to stand out on a crowded blue line. — AB

Brandon Fortunato: B+/A-
I think we’re all holding our breath for the day that Fortunato finally gets a penalty. It hasn’t happened yet, but he’s not the most physical player anyway. Which is fine — he’s not a big guy, and he compensates for that by using his speed and sly skill to his advantage. Most importantly, he’s more willing to shoot this year, which was definitely our biggest frustration with him last season, and it’s paid off — he’s become one of the league’s top-scoring defensemen. —SK

Matt Grzelcyk: A- (but sort of incomplete)
The captain’s season has just been injury nightmare after injury nightmare. In his first game back after offseason knee surgery against Northeastern University on Nov. 6, Grzelcyk found himself down on the ice being aided by a trainer for quite some time. That turned out to be nothing, but not too many games later, Grzelcyk was down on the ice again – hurting the opposite knee — and a “setback” in practice put him out even longer. In the time that’s he played healthily, he’s been terrific both skill-wise and confidence-wise for BU. It’s a shame, for him and the team as a whole, that his senior season has been marred so badly. — SK

Brandon Hickey: A-
Hickey continues to do Hickey things. Following a rookie season in which he established himself as one of the best defensemen on the team, the sophomore has followed up with a second year of dependable play. He is an always reliable option from a defensive standpoint and is also willing and able to help facilitate offense as well. —JC

John MacLeod: C+/B-
After a solid freshman campaign, MacLeod looked primed to build on his success at the beginning of this year. He appeared faster and more comfortable joining the offense. But at times, and as games wore on, the sophomore reverted to some of the undisciplined play he succumbed to at the start of his rookie season. There’s nothing glaringly wrong with the way MacLeod has played as a whole this year in his continued role as a stay-at-home defenseman, but of all returning players, he looks the most to have lost a step. —JC

Charlie McAvoy: B
Much was to be expected of McAvoy when he arrived at BU this fall, but the projected first round pick, who turned 18 two weeks ago, has struggled a bit adjusting to hockey at the collegiate level. He showcased early that he’s a talented puck-moving defenseman, earning a spot on the top power-play unit, but the defensive side of his game needed some fine-tuning. The last few weeks have indicated signs of just that. In his past handful of games, the blue liner has looked more responsible in his own zone and shown improved judgment when starting and joining rushes. Collectively, we gave McAvoy a B for the first half, but I gave him a B/B+ because I believe he’s trending upward and will continue to do so after the break. — JC

Doyle Somerby: A-/A
Since his freshman year where he led the team in penalty minutes, Somerby has continually improved his game. You’d be hard-pressed to find a player who’s sounder in the defensive end. He makes smart plays and his size speaks for itself. Mostly thought of as your typical stay-at-home defenseman, Somerby has added some offense with three goals and five assists. But why he really gets the A in our book is that he’s done a lot of this without captain Matt Grzelcyk. He’s established himself as a good player and a solid leader. — AB

Shane Switzer: B/B+ (but also, sort of incomplete)
Switzer was the player where the three of us had the most disagreement grading-wise, but it’s hard to give a full assessment given his limited ice time. I admittedly tend to be a bit more on the pro-Switzer (#FreeSwitzer ?) side, personally. But from what I’ve seen so far, Switzer has made very few, if any, significant mistakes, always has clean passes, and is suitably physical without being stupid about it. With a depleted bench, Switzer should get more playing time in the second half, and whether that’s at defense or even forward will remain to be seen, but he should thrive at either position. — SK

Goaltenders:

Connor LaCouvee: B+
I’ll admit I was initially nervous about LaCouvee being the team’s best option at goaltender when Sean Maguire had a few rough starts to begin the season. But he’s looked a whole lot sharper than I think any of us anticipated, and has come up big time and time again for BU — he keeps his team in games, and stopped a penalty shot earlier this season. Even if he lets in a few goals, he’s able to stay calm enough and keep the game from getting out of control. On top of that, we can always count on him for some hilarious postgame quotes — and a fun celly here and there. — SK

Sean Maguire: B
The start to Maguire’s season was a little bit less than ideal but was to be expected after the netminder missed a year due to concussion. And understandably, as the year has progressed, the senior is still working his way back to form. He looks more comfortable and dialed in between the pipes and is improving with each start he makes. This was most recently highlighted by a stellar outing against an undefeated Quinnipiac University team. The Bobcats tested Maguire a total of 37 times, but he was able to earn the win and safely turn aside all but one shot that beat him for a goal. —JC

Max Prawdzik:
Incomplete.
He hasn’t gotten any time in net, which is understandable, given the competition and experience ahead of him. He absolutely gets an A from all three of us, however, for how his hair always looks perfect. Seriously, even after he’s had a helmet on for an entire practice, his hair always seems to be in place. We’re jealous. — SK

Coaching staff: B
If you’d told us before the season started that this team would have a 9-6-3 record at winter break, then we probably would’ve been pretty surprised at that number of losses. But after 18 games of watching this team, 9-6-3 — and within the top 15 in Pairwise — honestly feels a bit generous. We’re possibly a bit spoiled with having last year’s team as a point of comparison, but this year’s team has seemed uninspired at many points, and we generally just don’t feel as optimistic about this team’s ability to come back from deficits.

After a rough weekend against Michigan, Quinn blamed himself and his staff for the team’s unenergetic and “lethargic” play that led to a loss. We aren’t going to blame uninspired play entirely on the coaching staff — coaches can yell and stress focus all they want, but ultimately the players are accountable there.

But to an extent, there have been some head-scratching games where one would expect the team to come out with energy, yet somehow come out flat. That’s not to say they’ve done this every game, because BU has had some big wins this year, but that’s what makes this year a bit frustrating. Some of the lineup decisions have been questionable (read: A.J. Greer on the first line that one time, and some confusing defensive pairings), at least to us, and we wonder if that has had any significant effect on the ice.

We certainly understand the injury bug and growing pains, and we absolutely understand that this team doesn’t have the cheat code it had last year. But there’s no reason why this team, even with a depleted roster due to injury or suspension, shouldn’t be playing a whole lot better. And to be fair, the team has looked considerably better as the season’s progressed — save the loss on Dec. 4 to Vermont — so most of this may be in the past. Props to Quinn and Co. for guiding his team to some marquee wins, particularly the most recent one against Quinnipiac, but we aren’t entirely convinced that the team’s completely turned the corner yet. — SK/AB

31 thoughts on “First half in review: Midseason Player Grades

  1. In all due respect, I wish I had you as a teacher. Sign up for Ms Kirkpatrick’s class. Easy grader. Robbie B gets a B. don’t think so

    • Having just gotten our first-semester grades back might’ve colored our grading ability a bit…haha. We all admittedly tend to be a bit on the positive side, though, so our grading averages may have trended that way.

    • Won’t get to see him until later this week, unfortunately. We’ll let you know as soon as we do!

  2. Sarah , Happy New Year ! Sorry I do not know what team you were watching. Perhaps it was Providence or Quinnipiac A pre season rank of second in the country . They are currently in fifth place in Hockey East and a mediocre 9-6-3 record. I believe a grade of C- for the team is more appropriate. This is only an on the ice performance grade as off the ice allegations are awhile separate issue.

    • Larry, records can be deceiving. While, yes, they are in an early Hockey East hole, BU’s overall record is not too bad considering their strength of schedule. The fact is if the season ended today, BU is an NCAA tournament team. (#12 in PWR) BC, at #16, would be out and their record is much better than BU but against a laughable schedule. I am curious what your expectations were with Eichel, E-Rod, and O’Connor gone. BU does have a lot to work on (solidifying goaltending is one), but everything is still in reach for BU.

  3. Definitely on the “generous ” side with the grades lol its all good we expect a great 2nd half. .. go terriers

  4. sarah,

    can you ask about Gryz? i hear he might be done for the year. i realize coaches tend to be reticent about discussing injuries, but try to press a bit. it will be good for your journalistic career. 🙂

    • We always ask Coach about the status of every single person who’s been injured, so fear not! We’ll have an update later this week. Winter break has obviously limited our access to the team — Agganis isn’t as easy of a place to drop by when I’m on the West Coast, unfortunately! — but I’m headed back early this week and we’ll get all the updates you need.

    • (also Judy’s gonna try and head in earlier this week before my flight lands in Boston, so she should have some updates for y’all as well.)

  5. Happy new year to all! Has anyone read the lead article on USCHO? Quinn suggested there’s a possibility that all three of our previously injured guys “might” play against Harvard on Thursday. So, even if they don’t play in that game, that suggestion pretty much assures me that nobody (except Roberto and Greer) is done for the season.

  6. Brian, all good points. However a very famous Hall of Fame coach once made what I believe is an honest assessment of replying to a question about the season by simply saying we are what are record is. In other words with four players in the world tournament, I believe more than any other college ,I expected a much better record. In addition inconsistent or less than stellar play against Vermont, Michigan, Merrimack and UConn is the primary reason for the low grade.
    However that could change in either direction depending on the second half.

  7. Glenn
    When is you know who been accurate about the status of injuries? Matt was supposed to be ready for play against Bentley.

  8. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “When is you know …?”. My main point is that there’s pretty much no chance that these guys are going to be out for the season. I’m not so concerned about which specific game they return (of course sooner is better if they are physically able to perform).

    • Definitely generous grades but I like your out look. It’ll get better.
      Ugh Glen, Larry ( who I’ll give a grade of F as a fan but an A+++ as ” know it all critiquer with no solutions”) is referring to Quinn as ” you know who”. So childish.

  9. I find it really interesting that no one says anything about the gambling. The fact that one hockey writer has even questioned O’Connor’s “muff” last year makes me sick as a long time BU Hockey guy. I understand that there was national gambling on the Championship game and the fact that it has been mentioned that two of the players not on the squad any more owed a lot of money is a red flag for sure. Could this be the reason the team does not seem “with it” this year ? The fact that I have to even bring this up goes to the point of Roberto even being on the team roster at all. He should be gone. In any other sport he would be barred for life. Google Pete Rose if you want to understand.I know the BU Authorities are trying to cover up the story but that almost never works. Let’s get to the truth and someone please find out which players were deemed to be in trouble that are no longer with the team.

    • The only facts we know that Roberto was involved, a couple of former players were involved, and it didn’t involve betting on hockey. Everything else is rinkside rumor. I like that in the USCHO article also posted today, that Quinn takes a pretty strong stance against all the rumors. It definitely makes me feel more confident that there is not “more to come.”

  10. Son of C C
    No acknowledgement of any news articles in the Globe, CHN or the website Bar Stool. I don’t understand why he is on the roster it doesn’t make sense. This could get very ugly!

  11. Fear not big second half for Robbie Baligeron. His grade was fine Sarah his offensive numbers are down. I think he lacks confidence he was sick last year. He bounces all over the lines but always plays good two way hockey. He started shooting more and making great offensive plays the last few games. If he can get hot it would be great for this team.

  12. Brian
    This is not a good situation. It does not matter what sport. Athletes, professional or amateur cannot gamble. He is suspended because he broke NCAA rules!

  13. Colin
    Don’t know what you are watching. He has been a major disappointed this year. He was even benched. Does not liked to be hit or go in dirty areas.

  14. Larry, I read the article from the terrier hockey fan blog. The fact that there is even a question of the game being “fixed” is why Roberto should not be on the roster. BU controls the media very well as this same thing happened several years ago when one of our famous alums was found to be betting with a bookie in Suffolk county. There was no follow up story. Many bets are off line with high rollers and it was, as I have stated, former players owing money for losing on bets. The problem is that with everyone not talking anything is possible. Eichel has refused comment. Not good.

  15. Larry in regards to Baligeron I see no signs of not liking to be hit. In fact I see him picking up his physical play since Olson has been out. And he most certainly goes to the net and the corners. If anything he gets rid of the puck to quick because of a lack of confidence. Don’t forget he led the team in scoring his freshman year. Last year he was sick for most of the season. This year he is all over the place and even a healthy scratch. As of very recently he has been hot and productive I have high hopes for him and the team second half?

  16. Colin
    Nothing would make me happier than to see Baligerion return to his freshman form. Last year I felt his illness certainly effected his play. Unfortunately this year he has been at best inconsistent and at times invisible. In fact as you mentioned he was benched for one game. I hope you are right as the team needs his scoring touch.

  17. Totally agree Larry! Let’s hope we stay healthy. It’s amazing how many key players from around the league have been out of action due to injuries.

  18. Son of CC
    Thank you for your insight and perspective. Most bloggers who comment are apple polishers , cheerleaders and you know what kissers.Clearly they are followers not leaders. Many I believe either work in development or the athletic department. They are thinned skinned and cannot take constructive criticism. It is certainly puzzling why there is not more discussion on the gambling issue. It was important enough to be mentioned numerous times in the Globe. Also CHN reporter Adam Wooden had a very interesting article. My son informed me that social media site Bar Stool commented.
    No hall pass from me for Saint Nick. He should leave or be asked to leave . The NCCA does not suspend athletes with out sufficient evidence of rule violations.A transfer to the maroon and gold seems appropriate. They have a lot of experience with these problems.

Comments are closed.