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Norsemen Mid-Season Report Card

by Matt MacInnis | February 24, 2013, 2:18 PM ET

The Vancouver Island have played just over half their regular season games and are off to a surprising start as one of the top teams in the league.  The squad has slowed down considerable recently, surprisingly enough due to the injury to backup goaltender Joey Macdonald. Despite the setback, the team has a sparkling 31-7-5 record after 43 games. Let’s look at how the players are performing individually.

 Centres

Sidney Crosby – Crosby leads the teams in both points (54) and assists (30) while anchoring the team’s first line around a cast of rotating wingers. He is producing as expected from one of the league’s top players, and hasn’t had the benefit of a creampuff schedule like some of the high scorers in the World Conference. (A)

 Mikhail Grabovski – The Belarussian is experiencing by far the best season of his SICHL career. After 43 games, he has already matched his previous career best of 51 points. The feisty Potsdam native has transplanted Ryan Getzlaf out of the second line role and is now receiving second unit powerplay time as well. (A+)

 Ryan Getzlaf – Potentially one of the single most disappointing players in the SICHL this season, Getzlaf would appear to be a number one centre on most teams but is playing more like a fringe 4th liner. His meagre 25 points in 43 games is grossly inflated by the fact that he’s had a few ‘stats nights’ against weak opposition. He also has only put the puck in the net three times to date.  (D)

 Daymond Langkow – Signed two off seasons ago as protection against the expansion draft, Langkow actually ended up being protected due to his ability to be a veteran presence on the fourth line. He’s played in all but six games this season and is doing solid work on the fourth line, although his plus-one rating is under expectations. Langkow is a bit of a faceoff specialist, but could find himself transplanted at the deadline if the right deal becomes available. (C+)

 Wingers

 Henry Zetterberg – The team’s top winger, the Swedish veteran and Franchise Player designee is rebounding admirably from the 2011-2012 campaign which was the worst of his professional career. With 48 points in 42 games player and a team-leading plus-30 rating, Zetterberg is proving he is one of the top wingers in the SICHL.  (A)

 Jamie Benn – One of the team’s two local kids, Benn is fourth on the team in goals (16) and points (33) and second in plus-minus (+24). He’s also providing a physical presence and is second on the team in hits among all players.  Benn came into the season with very high expectations and while he isn’t quite meeting them, he’s still proving to be a quality player that would be very difficult to replace. (A-)

 Johan Franzen – The Mule. He cannot be stopped.  Well that’s not entirely true.  With 15 goals in 42 games, he’s on pace for about 30 goals which will be his SICHL career high. Franzen is in an interesting place in his career as he is a former Franchise Player for the team whose contract is up at the end of this season. He is currently marked in by most experts as the probably FP this off-season, but could be supplanted by a new arrival if the right deal becomes available. Franzen might be playing for a spot on next year’s team right now. (B+)

Matt Moulson – Acquired from Stockholm in a deal that was based around prospect Jacob Josefson, Moulson has done everything expected of him upon arrival. He has 14 goals and 27 points in 27 games with the club – while not taking a single penalty. He’s also an impressive plus-17 in that same time and is scoring on a staggering 20 per cent of his shots. (A)

Erik Christensen – What a tale of two seasons for the waiver wire acquisition. Picked up initially for his cheap contract and potential ability to fill in on the fourth line, Christensen unexpectedly saw time early in the season on the second line after Brian Gionta went down with injury and before the trade for Moulson. At one point he had nine points in 13 games, but in the 25 games since has managed just four points. Now playing primarily on the fourth line, his days of meaningful contribution appear to be over. (D+)

 Josh Bailey – The rookie and former first round pick is struggling in his first full SICHL season. Despite his strong defensive abilities, he’s the only full-time player with a minus rating and has done little on the scoreboard (12 points in 40 games). Confusingly, he plays a significant role on the Norsemen’s 4th-ranked penalty killing unit. (C )

 Shawn Matthias – While is appears Matthias is never going to become the player the Norsemen envisioned when they traded for him, he may be a serviceable bottom-six forward for years to come as he continues to refine his game and focus on his strengths. Matthias played in 31 games before getting sent down to the farm following the acquisition of Travis Moen. Matthias probably would have stayed in the big show if not for his age/contract situation which allowed him to be demoted without having to clear waivers. With a plus-six rating and seven points playing a defensive role on the 4th line, he had been doing all that was expected of him. (C+)

 Lennart Petrell – The team had pretty much forgotten about Lennart Petrell. A 2004 ninth round pick by GM MacInnis, the feisty Finn earned a spot on the team with his defensive abilities and checking prowess. He’s appeared in all but two games and is doing good work to keep the fourth line neutral and providing quality PK minutes. His role will be reduced with the pickup of Moen, but he’ll stay on the big club roster as he cannot be demoted without clearing waivers. (C+)

 Brian Gionta – Injured after just six games, he’s missed the overwhelming majority of the season. He’s now expected to return to the lineup by the end of the week. Signed as an unrestricted free agent this off-season and pencilled into a second line role, he’ll return as a third line grinder due to the trade for Moulson. Gionta will also probably end up taking over Petrell’s PK time, but that’s to be determined. (Incomplete)

 Travis Moen – Acquired just four games ago to be a bottom-six forward and PK specialist, Moen has arrived at a time the Norsemen were playing farm quality goaltenders and their backup. His minus-three rating is indicative of that more so than anything. (Incomplete)

Defencemen

Alexander Edler – The crown jewel of the club’s stellar defensive corps, Edeler has 28 points in 42 games played while playing top unit and PP time. His plus-nine rating is not as strong as the club would like, but he’s also throwing his considerable frame around with 65 hits to date. (B+)

 Erik Johnson – The former first overall pick is not going to be the star the club expected, but he’s settling nicely into his role. With just one goal he’s been somewhat disappointing, but that’s buoyed by his 21 assists and plus-17 rating. He’s also taking a more disciplined approach with only 29 PIMs. (B+)

Carl Gunnarsson – Acquired last trade deadline with the team moved Nik Lidstrom’s expiring contract, Gunnarsson is doing his job. He’s a plus-17 and the PK unit is getting its job done. In future years they’d like to see more offence, but that’s not needed right now. (B)

 Jaroslav Spacek – The puck-moving d-man missed about two weeks with an injury, which kept him out of 9 games. During that time the team picked up O’Byrne which has limited his minutes since returning. His offensive numbers are far below expectations given his PP minutes, but he also has managed to go the entire season without taking a penalty. (C )

 Chris Phillips – The veteran is showing the grey in his beard. A modest plus-13 from the defensive stalwart on a very good team is not what they were hoping for when he was given a big off-season contract. (C )

 Ryan O’Byrne – The second Victoria native, acquired mid-season, O’Byrne is fitting in well. He’s put up a point every other game from the blueline and is plus-14. (A)

 Mike Weber – He wouldn’t be playing SICHL games if it weren’t for his contract that prevents him from getting demoted. He’s seen action in 24 games and probably won’t play more than every few days from here on out. His 90 PIMs show a lack of discipline the club doesn’t support and he’s stable at best. (C )

Goaltenders

 Jonathan Quick – Only to two losses in regulation, top five GAA (1.49) and save percentage (.956), Quick is among the best of the best and is the catalyst for this team’s success. (A+)

 Joey MacDonald – He’s been better than expected. His 11-3-2 record, which inexplicably includes a shutout, is really impressive. Less impressive is his individual stats – 3.27 GAA and 0.895 save percentage. But his value to the club was showcased when a two-week injury sent the team on its worst skid of the year (B+)

 The Call-Ups

 Ryan Ellis – Three points in five games from the young blueliner. The team thinks they have a real player on their hands, but it’s going to take him another two seasons before he’s ready for full-time duty.

 Dale Weise – He’s seen action in seven games this season and that’s probably all he’ll get. Weise may be a bubble player in the future if he can add a little more touch to his offensive game.

 Linus Omark – Two points in three games is great, but the enigmatic scoring winger doesn’t appear likely to be a SICHL player anytime soon.

 Clayton Stoner – The burly blueline from Port McNeill, BC is trying to prove that he can crack the team’s lineup in future years. He is developing, but the depth of the Norsemen might make it difficult to land that coveted job.

 Adam McQuaid – the same could be said for the even bigger McQuaid. He has a tough job with lots of competition ahead of him.

 David LeNeveu – A disaster in his two starting apperances. LeNeveu’s career with the Norsemen is limited.

 Colin Fraser – A probably fourth line centre with the club next season, Fraser needs to continue to work on staying out of the box, but he could prove a valuable asset in the future. He was solid in his three appearances, but did nothing to stand out.

Dmitri Orlov – Five games and zero points for the talented Russian. He seems to be taking a step backwards this season.

 James Wyman – One single appearance, nothing of substance to really talk about.

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