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Thread: After ten - The Forwards

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Red Deer, AB

    Default After ten - The Forwards

    My assessment of the forwards this season. The letter grade reflects both what the are bringing to the team, as well as how well they are doing compared to how well I thought they would be doing at this point.

    Connor Bleackley (C+) - His high level of skill is overshadowed by the complete lack of effort that he has put into his game since returning from the Avalanche. The fact that he has put up five points in his last eight games is nothing short of miraculous, given how much energy he expended to do it.

    Brayden Burke (??) - Only got into one game before sustaining a long-term injury. Was hoping to see him put some pressure on a few of the underachieving veterans on the roster at the moment, but I guess that is on hold for a few months.

    Cole Chorney (C-) - Has been a healthy scratch the last four games, and doesn't really seem to be helping or hindering the team, or really improving as a player. Unfortunately, like everyone, he is still aging...

    Jeff de Witt (B-) - Watched his progress last season, and didn't think he had a great season. Was injured all of training camp and most of the pre-season, so I was a bit surprised when he made the team. He has had a few decent scoring chances, and even a goal despite limited playing time. He also hasn't made a lot of defensive mistakes. Should see his ice time increase more and more moving forward.

    Devan Fafard (C-) - He is a better player as a forward than he ever was as a defenseman. Unfortunately, he was a below-average defenseman. The fact that he is still on the team as an overage player has to speak volumes of his character and off-ice qualities, as the team has ignored a few overage players that have been released by other teams, that have a considerably more diverse game, or would address the teams' weaknesses.

    Scott Feser (C-) - He skates hard, not the hardest hitter, but finishes all of his checks. Only seems to be able to serve up weak, fluttery passes/clearing attempts that get constantly intercepted, and I am pretty sure that most goaltenders in the league could strip the puck off his stick, let alone the defensemen and forwards. Was really hoping for a LOT more from him this season.

    Wyatt Johnson (B-) - Speedy skater, and is easily the best defensive forward on the team by a long shot. Doesn't generate as many scoring chances as he could with his speed, but seems to cash in on the ones that he does more often than not.

    Presten Kopeck (B-) - Another speedy skater that navigates well through traffic, and goes hard to the front of the net. Has a decent shot and works well on the wall. However, he seriously neglects the backcheck at times, and is not strong defensively overall.

    Brooks Maxwell (C-) - He is still as good of a penalty killer as he ever was, and cuts off passing lanes well, but has never taken his offensive game to the next level, and as an overage forward that has been seeing first and second line minutes for nearly three seasons, this just isn't acceptable.

    Mason McCarty (C+) - Hasn't had a ton of ice time, and only been in half of the games in the first ten, but actually had a few breakaways and decent scoring chances. He seems to struggle on the wall against big defenders, and needs to get stronger.

    Adam Musil (A) - He has had a great start, and has easily been the teams' best forward so far. Protects the puck well with his big frame, and has got a fantastic shot. He controls the play for long stretches in the offensive zone, and finishes his checks. If Bleackley keeps pissing away games, Musil could easily have twice as many points as him by the end of the season.

    Meyer Nell (C+) - Hard worker, and has put up a couple of nice goals. Puts himself into scoring position well, and really skates hard, but like a few of the other forwards, has struggled to stay with his defensive assignment in his own zone so far.

    Grayson Pawlenchuk (B+) - It is really shocking that he only has three points so far, as he hasn't taken a game off, always backchecks so hard, and has had so many glorious scoring chances. Needs to work on forcing the goaltender to work to make a save, rather than missing the net, or shooting the puck directly at his chest.

    Evan Polei (C+) - Came to camp ten or twelve pounds lighter, and in fantastic shape compared to last season. He is a physical force when he is on his game, and creates havoc in front of the net. Has a lot of hockey sense, and picks off a lot of passes. He has had a couple of fights so far that were absolute beauties! On the negative side, he has also clearly taken a handful of games off in the first ten, and needs to give a much more consistent effort.

  2. #2


    I honestly think you are being to generous to this group of forwards with the exception of Musil, Pawlenchuk and and de Wit. There should be a pile of Ds and Fs as far as I am concerned. I chatted about it before the season that I thought this forward group would be substantially better than last year as long as they actually got better with another year of age and experience like they are supposed to do. Yet here the Rebels are dropping five in a row tonight with what has definitely started out with another year of regression by a lot of them. If you take out the 7 goal Kootenay game, this team is averaging 2.6 goals/game. Last year they averaged 2.97 goals/game and that was deemed a disappointment.

    Absolutely atrocious that this team loses 5 in a row with the skill that is there on paper. Becoming more and more obvious that there are issues in the room and they are not picking up what the coach is laying down. These kids have the opportunity to compete in the memorial cup next which is every junior hockey players dream and they are performing like this. I thought with the memorial cup coming that the underachievers might get traded but can't see how 75% of the team can be traded. Something needs to change shortly or this is going to be more embarrassing than the Saskatoon performance and who is going to pay $500+ to go watch the Rebels have their butts handed to them in the memorial cup.

  3. #3


    The only ones I could see with lower marks are Bleackley, Feser, and Maxwell. I think the other grades are appropriate for guys like Chorney and Fafard because although they haven't done much, nothing is really expected from them, so C- is about par for what you would think they would give you. Bleackley has been an unmitigated disappointment, I've never thought much of Feser but he has been terrible this year, and Maxwell has literally not improved an iota the last 3 years, which, as was mentioned, is unacceptable.

    Johnson, Kopeck, Nell, and Polei were rated accordingly IMO.

  4. #4


    I expected substantially more out of Kopeck and Polei than what they have offered this season. Yes, there has been games where Kopeck has been the best player on the ice, but there have been more where he has been non-existent. Polei was supposed to be a power forward playing top line minutes at the start of the season. He has not been anywhere close to that. If we are grading him on his toughness and ability to fight, then I give him an A but I don't think he has improved on or even equaled the way he was playing at the end of last season.

  5. #5


    Good point though, I missed where Section N put " compared to how well I thought they would be doing"

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Moonergroupie View Post
    I expected substantially more out of Kopeck and Polei than what they have offered this season. Yes, there has been games where Kopeck has been the best player on the ice, but there have been more where he has been non-existent. Polei was supposed to be a power forward playing top line minutes at the start of the season. He has not been anywhere close to that. If we are grading him on his toughness and ability to fight, then I give him an A but I don't think he has improved on or even equaled the way he was playing at the end of last season.
    Polei had 16 points in 60 games as a 17-year-old last year. I'm was always baffled as to where the notion that he should be a top-line player this year originated but I always had a very difficult time believing he was going to be able to make that kind of a leap. To me, expecting him to be a top line forward is unrealistic in and of itself, so to punish him for not being able to do that, I dunno. I don't get it.

    I guess I could probably agree to a marginally lower grade for Kopeck, although he has been the least of the team's problems so far. With regards to Nell, upon further reflection he's definitely been worse than a C+.

    So yeah. I don't know. This is depressing.
    Last edited by calcheyup; 10-18-2014 at 11:05 PM.

  7. #7


    How long has it been since the Rebels had the players that were supposed to play well, do it, and a player or two that were on the bubble actually develop into something more than expected? I guess that is where I had Polei and Kopeck this year, was in the chance to develop into something special category. After the way Nell played in the preseason I had him there as well....but I hardly classify 2 points in 11 games as doing anything special. Pretty bad when Cote is the only guy on the team on the point per game pace and we don't have a forward in the top 50 for whl scoring. I had higher expectations than that.

  8. #8


    I hear you, but before we worry too much about putting the puck in the opponents' net, I think keeping it out of our own needs to be Sutter's focus. Because, as we saw last week, even scoring 4 goals a night isn't going to cover up the situation in net.

    Honestly, I think the goaltending situation is having a bigger impact than just the sheer amount of goals allowed; you can't tell me that it's not having a psychological impact on these guys either in terms of deflating them before they even hit the ice. Pretty hard to give your best effort every night when you know that every mistake you make is going to end up in the back of your net.

  9. #9


    I am sure that it is deflating to see the easy goals going in and tough to stay motivated when you have no confidence in your goaltenders, but this team suffered from the same issues last year when they had the reigning CHL goaltender of the year between the pipes. There has to be something else going on with the culture of the team.

  10. #10


    Maybe I was being a little to hard on Polei. Here is how the points per game so far this season compare to last year.

    Player. Last year. This year
    Kopeck. .59. .55
    Bleackley. .96. .56
    Maxwell. .55. .55
    Johnson. .51. .64
    Musil. .48. .91
    Feser. .61. .45
    Pawlenchuk. .43. .27
    Polei. .26. .45
    Chorney. .19. .17
    Nell. .14. .18

    I realize there are guys that are more Defense minded, but there is certainly lots of regression or lack of progression from an offence standpoint to start the season. Really makes you wonder where the 66 points from Dieno, 53 points from Sterzer and others are going to come from.
    From a point standpoint the defensemen have really picked up the pace over last year. All except for Fluery are up, some quite substantially, and Cote has been a huge upgrade over Gaudet.

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