Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grading the Terriers: The 2010-11 Defensemen

David Warsofsky: C/C-
If any other defenseman on this list had the season Warsofsky had, their respective grade would be much higher than a C. Fact is, Warsofsky entered the season with All American expectations, and wound up winning Second Team Hockey East honors to a rousing, “He did it on reputation alone,” from many around the hockey community. BU coach Jack Parker talked after the season about Warsofsky’s seemingly bored nature with the college competition, and supposed that the tougher test he’ll get with the AHL’s Providence Bruins may respark his competitive edge better than Parker could.

Max Nicastro: D-/D
Nicastro also entered the season with high expectations after a strong freshman year, but was probably the worst of BU’s blue-liners from start to finish. His team worst minus-9 rating, 59 penalty minutes, two game misconducts and nine meager points seem to paint the picture well enough. Nicastro has talent, and Parker attributed his struggles to a mental slump early in the season that the Californian failed to shake. The cure according to Parker: some confidence that’ll hopefully be gained in the offseason.

Sean Escobedo: C
Like Nicastro, Escobedo was also coming off a solid freshman season, but for a stay-at-home defenseman, “Scooby’s” defensive-zone play left much to be desired. He isn’t expected to contribute much offensively, so his six points aren’t a big deal, but he struggled at times to make basic plays on the breakout, something even a D-first defenseman needs to be able to do in modern college hockey. His 62 penalty minutes weren't a big plus, either.

Ryan Ruikka: B-/C+
One of the best stories in Hockey East this year, Ruikka finally made his way onto the ice after missing all of the previous two seasons with major injuries. From the start, Ruikka proved he belonged. The redshirt sophomore earned praise for his work in the defensive zone, and finished fourth among the team’s blue-liners in goals. Among his most important contributions, oddly enough, was his ability to stay on the ice –– among BU’s starting six defensemen, Ruikka had far and away the fewest penalty minutes with 22.

Adam Clendening: B+
The US National Development Program alum didn’t exactly burst onto the college hockey scene, scoring nine points with one multipoint game in his first 18 contests. That changed as the season wore on, especially once the allure (and pressure) of a potential World Juniors appearance came and went without a phone call. The rookie scored 17 points over his last 22 games, finishing as the team’s highest scoring defenseman. Just as important, his play on the breakout and the defensive zone improved by leaps and bounds, making him more than just an offensive threat. The one apparent area in need of improvement is penalties, where his 80 minutes were second most on the team. It’s worth noting that 38 of those minutes came in two games, though, as he tallied 21 PIM against Merrimack on Jan. 18 and 17 PIM on March 4 against Northeastern.

Garrett Noonan: B+
Nobody was a more pleasant surprise for the Terriers in 2010-11 than Noonan, a super-late recruit who from day one, as Jack Parker said, “Surprised me with how good he was.” Noonan’s physical tools mostly range from average to above average, but his ability to think the game, according to Parker, are off the charts. Rarely if ever did Noonan make a dumb play with the puck on his stick, and defensively, he was easily BU’s most consistent player from start to finish. Like Clendening, Noonan struggled to stay out of the sin bin, logging a team high 89 PIM and earning a one-game suspension as punishment for three game misconducts.

Patrick MacGregor: C/C+
MacGregor only saw action in 13 games, but proved in that time span he’s capable of playing defense at the Division 1 level. The rookie is big-bodied and rangy, and skates fairly well for his size. He’s unlikely to ever be a top-pair defenseman for the Terriers, and will again have to battle for playing time next year, but BU could be stuck with far worse options at their seventh defensive spot.

4 comments:

  1. If the season were to start up again right now, who do you think would take Warso's spot in top pairing?

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  2. I would expect the top pairing next season to be Noonan-Clendening and I would expect Privitera to take Warsofsky's spot in the top six.

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  3. Scott, do you think Privitera is going to be all that good? He was a -22 last year and this year he's a -8.

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  4. I wouldn't really put much stock in those numbers. Muskegon is an under-.500 team this season and only five of their regular players have a plus rating. The -22 with the US team is hard to qualify, too. He played on the under-17 team most of the season, and it seems like that team by and large had much worse ratings than the under-18 guys. Plus different guys play in different tournaments and whatnot.

    The only time I've seen Privitera play was in a couple of the under-17 world championship games last year (they were on NHL Network), and I thought he was clearly one of the best players on the ice. From everything I've read, he's a very good offensive defenseman (skating, passing, shooting) and power play QB and he's pretty solid in his own end, too. Undersized, but can still play a physical game. Could be a late-round NHL pick this summer.

    Overall, I'd certainly expect some growing pains, but I expect him to be an everyday player.

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