Mid-season report card: Defensemen

Photo by Sara Stathas

Photo by Sara Stathas

Yesterday we graded goalies, now we’ll look at the men in front of them.

Anthony Bitetto: C

8 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, 2 shots, -1

In all fairness, Bitetto has only skated for Milwaukee in eight games this season, so it’s tough to give a definitive assessment of his performance. From what the players have told us, he’s a good locker room guy and one of the funniest guys on the team. When he’s been on the ice, however, he’s been a bit less visible.

Ryan Ellis: B+

20 games, 2 goals, 7 assists, 54 shots, +2

Whenever you talk about Ryan Ellis, you talk about his status as a two-way contract player. He’s an NHL-caliber talent who’s spent time in the big leagues, and you can see it in his play. It’s the subtle things that set him apart (the way he handles the puck, his calmer, collected demeanor) and he carries himself with that NHL swagger.

Jonathon Blum: B

34 games, 1 goal, 11 assists, 42 shots, -3

Blum is another guy who fringes on NHL-caliber, but he struggled and drew the ire of some fans last season (why him more than anyone else is beyond me.) This season, Blum gets my vote for most improved Admiral at the halfway point. His puck control has been better, he’s been a better facilitator on offense and he’s been much better at holding pucks in on the attack.

Mattias Ekholm: ?

29 games, 4 goals, 10 assists, 60 shots, -2

Charles Olivier-Roussel: B

14 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, 9 shots, 0

Roussel gets the Johnny-on-the-Spot award for filling in nicely in the absence of Mike Moore. While he hasn’t had much of an impact on the offensive end, Roussel’s been a capable defender who’s stood out to Dean Evason as a solid call-up.

Mike Moore: B

16 games, 4 goals, 3 assists, 26 shots, +1

One reason to be excited for the second half of the season is to see what Moore can do. He may be a new face, but he fits the mold of the ideal Admirals/Predators defenseman and for that reason the team named him captain. He’s another guy who carries that pro swagger and makes the team better when he’s on the ice. He’s had his rough spots with a few ugly turnovers here and there, but it’s pretty tough to redeem yourself when you’ve spent the time he has out with injury.

Scott Valentine: ?

32 games, 3 goals, 3 assists, 29 shots, +3

Taylor Aronson: N/A

The guy’s had one shot in one game. He’s going to be a key cog with the lockout over, and for now let’s see what he can do in the second half.

Victor Bartley: A

37 games, 6 goals, 13 assists, 53 shots, +6

He’s Milwaukee’s lone all star, and he’s spending the week at camp in Nashville for good reason. Bartley’s putting forth his best season to date, leading the defense in most stat categories.  While he’s one of the team’s most physical defenders, he’s also got a blistering slap shot that’s becoming a big part of the Admiral’s offense. As far as playing at both ends goes, Bartley is tops on the roster this season.

Joonas Jarvinen: C+

36 games, 2 goals, 4 assists, 28 shots, -7

Jarvinen’s another guy who can go missing at times when he’s on the ice. He’s the most penalized defenseman with 47 minutes in the box and sometimes it’s hurt the team as his -7 +/- shows. The good news is he’s got plenty of time to turn it around.

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