Bears Make the Grade at Mid-point

Mid-season grades are in for the Acadia Golden Bears
by Guy Flaming | February 18, 2009, 1:59 PM ET
41 games in, 41 games to go and the Acadia Golden Bears have to be pretty satisfied in the Canadian Conference. Sure, that spot is tentative at best but still, the fact remains that Acadia has had more success than many predicted. "Happy yes... but not satisfied," said GM Guy Flaming. "We've been strong in some areas and a few of our players are having fantastic seasons but there are those who have underachieved as well." As a team the Bears have the 7th best power play, the 4th best penalty kill, are one of the least penalized teams in the SICHL and amass more shots on net per game than all but 2 other teams in the league. In terms of goals for and against, the club is basically middle of the pack but slightly above average in both departments. "Our special teams have been pretty good all year," Flaming allowed, "and even better when I think back to some of the injuries we've had to deal with." Player Grades Goaltenders Rick DiPietro: -C - DiPietro has been very hot and very cold all year long suggesting a potential injury that the team has been hiding. Much more was expected from the the 4th year player but he's struggled mightlily at times this year. Dwayne Roloson: -A - He hasn't started many games but when he has he's been solid. The veteran has made 12 appearances and has taken the loss only once in that time. He also has a shutout to his credit as well as a shiny .910 save percentage and 2.15 goals against average. Blueliners Sami Salo: +B - Leads all Acadia defencemen in scoring and is on pace to establish a new career high in points in the process. Salo's been everything the Bears coud have expected from an offensive standpoint but the -5 suggests his play in his own end could use some work. Marc-Andre Bergeron: C - His offensive numbers are a shadow of what they were last year but suprisingly he leads Acadia with a +7 rating. His power play numbers have been almost non-existent so if he starts to click there in the second half he should rebound from his low production. Tom Gilbert: C - His first full season has been one full of learning. Gilbert is a team low -9 but logs a lot of ice time and is second only to Salo in goals by a defenceman with 7. It hasn't been perfect but Gilbert's season has been OK. Garnet Exelby: -B - The heir apparent to Jason Smith in terms of being the tough, physical stay-at-home blueliner. 'X' has been pretty solid this year and has actualy contributed a bit to the scoring which is a nice bonus. He has 5 goals and is a +3 but most importantly he leads the team with hits and is doing so without racking up the PIMs. Jan Hejda: +C - He's been given the role of balancing out Tom Gilbert so some of the -3 he currently has might be attributed to that. Hejda provides steady defensive play and some leadership but management might be expecting a bit more to his all around game than he has provided to this point. Bryce Salvador: +C - like Hejda, nothing much was expected from Salvador outside of consistent and quality defensive play and that's pretty much what the Bears have got from their UFA signing. Call Ups: Chris Chelios played 4 games, Ken Klee 3, Mike Van Ryn 3 and Ladislav Smid has dressed once. Forwards Mike Cammalleri: +A - There may have been a day when the Bears might have been regretting the 2006 draft day trade that saw them deal the 3rd overall pick to Whitehorse (Jordan Staal) but that's not the case anymore. Cammalleri was part of the package that came over in the trade and the forward is now one of the more prolific scorers in the SICHL. For most of the year he has been on pace to challenge team scoring records and is currently on the ballot for the 2009 SICHL All-Star game as well. Joffrey Lupul: +A - It seems like a 1-year demotion was the cure to what ailed Lupul last year. The scorer who came to Acadia from Hamburg for a 2nd round pick is having his best year in the league since 2004-05 with the Gladiators. At his current pace he'll eclipse all the numbers he had that year and then some. Mike Knuble: A - The well travelled forward has responded to being in the same place for a little while. His 36 points represent a scoring pace to set a new career high in the SICHL. HIs veteran leadership has been beneficial for many of Acadia's younger players. Shawn Horcoff: B - The center overcame a dreadfully slow start and has started to produce closer to what was expected of him. He has 30 points in 36 games as he's missed some time due to injury. Ryan Smyth: -B - He's 5th in team scoring which is a step back from what was expected of the face of the franchise. He's the club's Franchise Player but some have wondered openly if he might be available for trade - the team has refused to comment. Peter Mueller: +B - The top rookie scorer on the team, Mueller has played in the top 6 all season and hasn't looked a bit out of place. He is currently in the top 10 of SICHL rookie scoring as well. Ladislav Nagy: -B - a pretty fair season for Nagy who is playing amidst rumors that he'll head overseas next year for a bigger pay cheque. Acadia has openly shopped the winger who has has 22 assists and a +1 rating, but they are also willing to hold onto his rights should he in fact head to Europe in 2009-10. David Legwand: C - Disappointing from the perspective that he had 55 points last year and is on pace for 30 this season. Positive in that he's accepted a more defensive role this year and is a +5. Dainius Zubrus: C - Playing mostly 4th line minutes, Zubrus has picked up 15 points and might be showing that he's capable of logging more ice time as the year goes on. Rob Niedermeyer: +C - picked up in the waiver draft in order to help a struggling penaly kill, Niedermeyer has paid off. The salary is huge, no doubt, but the PK has been much better since he came on board. Plus his 9 points and 2 GWG have been an unexpected bonus. Colby Armstrong: -C - not much expected from Armstrong this year as he bounces from the 3rd to 4th line and not much is exactly what the team is getting. Jay Pandolfo: C: Like Niedermeyer, was brought in simple to add a defensive steadiness to the line up and has managed to do that as well as chip in 4 goals as well. Call Ups: David Krejci had 3 points in 4 games and is showing signs that he should be ready for prime time in 2009-10. Robert Nilsson has a dozen appearances but lost his spot when Pandolfo came to the team. Curtis Glencross dressed twice but played sparingly; he's bookmarked for next year as well. Bear Tracks: Rumors sugest that Acadia is potentially on the hunt for a netminding upgrade and have had talks with at least two teams already. Although the club isn't willing to part with a high draft pick, more than one high calibre prospect's name has been on the table... Byron Bitz, originally claimed by Acadia in their expansion draft, has shown growth in his game and will get a look next season as a potential tweener between Saint John and their farm club... Candidates for promotion to the big club next year include defencemen Boris Valabik, Kris Russell, Ladislav Smid and veterans Chris Chelios and Mike Van Ryn... forwards Dustin Byfuglien, Cal Clutterbuck, Jared Boll, Claude Giroux, Robert Nilsson, Curtis Glencross, Kyle Brodziak and David Krejci...

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