Mid-season report card: Forwards

Photo by Scott Paulus
Photo by Scott Paulus

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

(See above)

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

13 thoughts on “Mid-season report card: Forwards”

  1. as a rookie? Austin Watson deserves an A+ or as Ralphie’s teacher in A Christmas Story would say A+++++++++++

  2. I have to agree with Rock. Watson should get an “A+” for his grade. He has come in as a rookie and done very well. Watson currently leads the team in goals and is near the top in points. He has accomplished this with less ice time as others and with very little power play time. Watson also plays a very good defensive game and is not afraid to block a lot of shots.

  3. According to the transactions, and if you read between the lines on the Preds training camp report, Chris Mueller will be with the Ads already this weekend. Too bad for him, but good for Milwaukee. There must be something the Preds feel is “missing” to always send him back down.

    I agree about Watson for sure, A+. I don’t think he is going to be in Milwaukee long past this season.

  4. Honestly, what is going on with Nashville & Mueller? Does Poile not like him? Is Trotz jealous of his hair? Lane is up there & he loved him when he was down here. Just last week, Fenton told Ryan (I think it was Ryan) Chris had earned his spot in Nashville. Then he gets booted for Richard Clune?? They keep 8 defensemen? Are they losing their marbles or what? I don’t understand it. He isn’t signing with us again next season-he’s gotta be so frustrated.

  5. Well, for Henderson, his health has increased over last year. He missed most due to injury. I’d probably give him an A. Fenton said he was in consideration for Nashville training camp. That’s a nice endorsement.

    Moore’s injury wasn’t recurring. But you’re right, Bourque’s was. I don’t know if he was ‘the best guy on the ice’ in all of those games as you suggest, but I have a tough time giving a skater who has only played in 13 games a B.

    What has Shalla done to show ‘a lot of potential as a guy who’ll take advantage of his chances in the AHL?’

    I’d give Beck a B+. I think he has improved over last year, and still has room for growth.

    I think Puustinen is trending up. He’s been very good lately.

    Latta’s not starting because he’s a fighter. You see the MVG-Latta-Hendo line starting at home likely because Coach likes to match them up against the best lines of their opponents. But Latta has certainly taken a giant step forward this year, for sure.

    I don’t think anyone should be surprised that Mueller is back. And I don’t think anyone will be surprised when he gets called up again.

    I think the “C” you gave Lajunen is extraordinarily generous. What of his game has been satisfactory?

    Watson has been great so far, and is showing solid play on both ends of the ice. I’d give him an “A”, because he has exceeded 1st-year-pro expectations by a lot. Looking forward to the continued growth.

  6. The 8 defensemen bit I think is temporary. Josh Cooper reported that Bartley hurt his elbow in camp. They can’t re-assign him until he’s fully healthy. Cooper said he was on the ice at the morning skate today, so hopefully the injury isn’t TOO bad. And maybe they’ll call a forward up when they send Bartley down.

    As for Mueller…i don’t know what to say. I sympathize, because he’s been absolutely great down here. But I’m not sure what center they bench in favor of him. It’s tough. But I imagine he’ll be heading back to Nashville sooner rather than later.

  7. NHL Nashville currently has six players that can play center, Chris Mueller is the odd man out nothing more nothing less. With the addition of Rich Clune , Clune will probably share the 12th forward spot with Brian McGrattan. Once Nashville recalls a healthy Gabriel Bourque I would not be surprised to see McGrattan waived .

    Short 48 game season Predators are going to keep 8 defensemen for awhile.

  8. I give Gabriel Bourque a “C” . Before he got hurt I thought he was just average. His battle for the puck level was weak. His forecheck wasn’t there either.

    Austin Watson – is a kid that will play 10 – 12 seasons in the NHL. All-Around excellent game, great hands and hockey smart. Play-maker, Shot-blocker , ect.

  9. I am an old timer who happens to live in East Lansing, Michigan. I have had MSU hockey season tickets for longer than I would like to admit. Chris Mueller is one of the best I have ever seen. He plays whatever role his coach asks. He is impossible to take off the puck. He can draw penalties without taking them himself. He was a major reason the Spartans won the National Championship while he was there. He played wing as well as center while there. He’s a forward-he’s versatile. He should be up in Nashville. Thanks for the blog-I like keeping tabs on the Spartans still playing hockey. And thanks for listening to an old man stick up for one of his fellow alums.

  10. @OleSparty: Thank you, we appreciate the comment sir. Mueller’s been a great asset to the proud history of the franchise and maybe one day he’ll be up there. We really believe he will be one day.

  11. I was wrong others were right, Victor Bartley is on his way back to Milwaukee to join the Admiral’s
    Thank You .

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