Finally, it’s time to grade the guys who light the lamp. Here’s my take on Milwaukee’s forwards.
Kevin Henderson: B
32 games, 9 goals, 6 assists, 48 shots, +4
Henderson’s role has increased dramatically since last season. He’s played in two more games and scored five more goals than he did all of last year, and in his second season with the team he’s on track for his best statistical season by far. He’s been a solid second/third-liner and adds a lot of depth to the team.
Ben Ryan: C
32 games, 1 goal, 3 assists, 34 shots, -2
It’ll be nice to see what Ryan does in the second half as he’s been a lot more active of late. He scored his first goal of the season in last Sunday’s loss to Peoria, and jumped into the first fight of his career back on December 28 against the Rivermen. Before that, however, he hadn’t been heard from much.
Gabriel Bourque: B+
13 games, 7 goals, 5 assists, 21 shots, +7
Like Mike Moore, Bourque’s season so far has been marred by recurring injury. In the 13 games he’s played, however, he’s been the best skater on the ice for the Admirals. He’s taken good shots and made them count with a 23.3 percent scoring percentage. We’ll see how long he stays down with Milwaukee in the second half if/when he comes back.
Joshua Shalla: N/A
10 games, 0 goals, 3 assists, 5 shots, -3
Shalla’s another call-up who could play a big role in the second half with the lockout over. He’s made his presence known recently and hopefully his production will steadily improve. So far he’s show a lot of potential as a guy who’ll take advantage of his chances in the AHL.
Patrick Cehlin: C+
35 games, 6 goals, 10 assists, 75 shots, -1
Cehlin had a great first month of the season, but his production has fallen off considerably. With other guys trending up, he’s likely going to have to step it back up in the second half if he wants to stay in the mix as a big part of the offense.
Daniel Bang: B
22 games, 3 goals, 8 assists, 35 shots, -1
Bang is yet another guy who’s impressed in limited action. For the most part he’s made himself known when he’s been on the ice and shown he can be a solid facilitator. He’s speedy and opportunistic and he’s got good potential to be an important cog in the offense going forward.
Taylor Beck: ?
31 games, 6 goals, 20 assists, 85 shots, +4
Juuso Puustinen: C+
36 games, 3 goals, 8 assists, 72 shots, -8
What can you say about Puustinen? When he’s been good he’s been good, but when he’s been bad well…take a look at the +/-. His production hasn’t been as good as guys who’ve played in considerably fewer games, but the potential is always there for him. He can be a big presence out there and he’s shown the cliqued “flashes of brilliance” so he’ll need to build on that in the second half.
Michael Latta: B+
37 games, 5 goals, 17 assists, 61 shots, +7
Latta’s started quite a few games this year and for good reason. He’s filled the role of unofficial “fighter” and spent 110 minutes in the box this season, and that’s not a negative stat. He’s a guy who stands up for his teammates and rises to the task in the physical part of the game. Along with that he’s been a much better facilitator this season with four more assists now than he had all of last year.
Chris Mueller: A
34 games, 12 goals, 8 assists, 87 shots, -1
He’s one of the 35 greatest Admirals of all-time and he’s continued to play to that standard this season. Sadly there’s a good chance we might not see him in Milwaukee again. He’s done his time in the AHL and it’s looking an awful lot like he’ll be staying up in Nashville the rest of the season. He’s been a good leader and he’ll leave behind a big spot to fill.
UPDATE: Mueller will surprisingly return to the Admirals while Bartley, Blum and Ellis will remain in Nashville.
Jani Lajunen: C
35 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, 36 shots, -9
Lajunen’s played in a lot of games and hasn’t done too much with them. Add him to the list of guys who need to step it up in the second half.
Jack MacLellan: C
26 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, 34 shots, -10
Mark Van Guilder: A
36 games, 7 goals, 9 assists, 44 shots, +6
MVG is the unsung hero of this squad and he’s the last person who’d tell you so. He’s more than made a name for himself over the last five years, and he’s been described as one of the best teammates a player could want by both current and past Admirals. He’s quietly the best facilitator on the team and he’s on track for another year of solid production.
Cam Reid: B
20 games, 0 goals, 5 assists, 27 shots, -1
Mr. Spin-o-Rama has been a nice call-up and another guy with a lot of potential. He’s one of the youngest guys on the team but has been quite an impressive passer. GM Paul Fenton said he plans to keep Reid around leaving room for more possible highlight reel flashes in the second half and beyond.
Austin Watson: ?
37 games, 13 goals, 7 assists, 71 shots, +2