FanPost

Mid Season Report Cards: Forwards

After being picked by 1,000% of critics and naysayers to finish dead last in the West, the Avalanche have proven 1,000,000% of those haters wrong - at least this is the case at the season's half way point. A big boon to the team has been the refreshing play of the forwards. Last year's miserable team was BORING. Passes weren't sharp, hustle was on holiday, and I don't think a single player was ever the first one to any puck, ever. But this year, oh this year things have changed. From the first game when Sakic's jersey was lifted to the rafters, this young AVS team came out guns blazing, feet moving, and bodies flying. It was obvious right away that this was a much different team than just months before - you should be smiling with contentment at this point, and if you aren't, let me remind you of one simple fact: No more Arnason. Smiling now?

 *Disclaimer: All grades encompass ONLY the entire first half of the season, not how the player is playing right now. And no curve for rookies, all 216 of them. And "C" is average. Let the debating begin.*

 

Paul Stastny

#26 / Center / Colorado Avalanche

Height: 6-0

Weight: 205

Born: Dec 27, 1985


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 41 9 30 39 9 22
3 0 1 89 10.1









I think the only reason someone may not like SoS is because of his horrible performances in commercials. Luckily, his performances on the ice don't mimic his acting (He can't be good at EVERYTHING). Stastny hasn't exactly dominated this season, but he hasn't really made any missteps either. At the mid point, Stastny leads the team in scoring, has turned around his +/- from -9 to a +9, and more importantly has stayed healthy. After 41 games Stastnyis set to match his career high in points and is back to about a point-per-game pace. He still needs to improve his play outside of Denver, but he is doing better on the road than at the beginning of the season. Stastny is that rare player who can mesh with any linemate. He makes his teammates better. Anybody Sacco throws on his line all of a sudden becomes the next big thing, cases in point: Jones & Stewart.  Once upon a time he also wisely chose American citizenship over Canadian and thus has made this year's Olympic roster. USA! USA!

Mid Season Grade: A+

Last Season's Final Grade: B


Wojtek Wolski

#8 / Left Wing / Colorado Avalanche

Height: 6-3

Weight: 210

Born: Feb 24, 1986


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 41 15 23 38 12 12
2 0 3 98 15.3.

Wolski is much like Clark or Budaj in that people love and/or hate him,(wait, nobody likes Clark, so nevermind) and all because of the nasty "P" word. Yes,Wolski should be better than he is, he always will be. But he deserves some major props this year for pulling his head out of his ass. He has said that he wants to make sure he is competing every night (how strange), and for the most part he is - but not necessarily shift to shift. Joe Sacco hasn't made Wolski a healthy scratch like Granato and Le Grand Mustacho used to. Instead, he benched Wolski in 3rd periods and shootouts early in the season and it seems to have lit a bit of a fire under the Baron. Granted, it's no inferno, but it's a start. Wolski finally looks comfortable at Left Wing, but he does have a reputation for falling off in the latter stages of the season so let's hope he keeps up the intensity. One regrettable change this season has been his shootout performance. Last year, his high light reel shootout goals were the ONLY positive we could consistently count on from the AVS, but alas, that train has sailed. Did goalies get wise? Is Double Dub trying too hard? Regardless of the negatives surrounding the potential-filled 24 year old, the Baron has actually put together a great season. He's on pace for career highs is everything. At mid season, he leads the team in goals, shots (see, he does shoot the puck), +/-, and game winners. Not shabby, but is it good enough?

Mid Season Grade: A

Last Season's Final Grade: B-


Milan Hejduk

#23 / Right Wing / Colorado Avalanche

Height: 6-0

Weight: 190

Born: Feb 14, 1976


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 34 15 11 26 2 10
6 0 3 90 16.7

Is there anybody on the Avalanche that is more consistent than the Duke (I mean in a good way)? Hejduk missed 7 games with injuries during the first half, but he has been ever reliable every time and every where on the ice.  He is tied with Wolski for the team lead in goals, and he leads the team in PP goals (6). Hejduk now sits 4th in franchise history in goals and 5th in points. He also is the franchise leader in OT goals. This year he played in his 800th game (all with the AVS). He is on pace to get back to the 30 goal mark for the first time since 06-07 - yes, we may have a 30 goal scorer again. Hejduk is also a model teammate for the fact that he doesn't seem to care what line he plays on, he just gets it done. Hopefully we can find a top 6 LW to fill out the second line with he and Duchene.

Mid Season Grade: A

Last Season's Final Grade: B+

 

Marek Svatos

#40 / Right Wing / Colorado Avalanche

Height: 4-1

Weight: 9 lbs 6 oz

Born: Jun 17, 1982

 


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 35 6 3 9 -9 33
3 0 1 56 10.7

 

You know, we got 32 goals and 50 points in 61 games from him in 05-06 so I guess we shouldn't really expect anything else from a 7th round, 227th overall pick. Honestly, this is our fault for wanting more Marek. Our bad. You can suck from now on, it's cool. Did I mention team worst -9 at mid season?

Mid Season Grade: D-

Last Season's Final Grade: Dog ate my homework

 

David Jones

#54 / Right Wing / Colorado Avalanche

Height: 6-2

Weight: 210

Born: Aug 10, 1984


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 23 10 6 16 1 2
1 2 3 39 25.6

Thanks a lot Chuck Kobasew. Prick. 

The major blemish during the AVS' first half was yet another injury to Dr. Jones (I like that better than 'Jonesy'). When he got injured he was 2nd on the team in goals, first in game winners and shorties, and first in shooting percentage - dude scored every four shots!? It's really awful that he is out because this was IT, his break out campaign. He really hadn't made a wrong move all year before Kobasew fell on him. His contributions in all situations on the propel his grade to the "+". The sweet smell of success for Jones even sweeter because of the fact that he was picked 288th in the draft. No matter what he does going forward, he is already a genius draft pick. Luckily he is under contract next year so we still might get to see what he can do with a full season in an AVS sweater.

Mid Season Grade: A+

Last Season's Final Grade: C+



Chris Stewart

#25 / Right Wing / Colorado Avalanche

Height: 6-2

Weight: 228

Born: Oct 30, 1987


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 36 11 14 25 5 36
1 0 3 77 14.3

The silver lining to Jones' destroyed knee has been the emergence of big power forward Chris Stewart. A healthy scratch and then sent down to Lake Erie at the beginning of the season, Stewie has gone gang busters since sliding into Jones' spot on the top line. He's scored 16 points in 16 games since then, with 9 goals in 14 December games. And man, what a shot! He's flown down the wing a few times now and unloaded a cannon to the top corner. Perfect freaking shot. It's beautiful to see somebody on the Avalanche have that skill (and actually use it). Maybe we shouldn't be surprised, after all he was a first round pick (18th) - Not that he looked out of place last season, he just seemed kind of lazy as a rookie. Stewart really could be the story of the season if he keeps up this play. He seems like a different player out there on the ice: fast, confident, aggressive, bad ass. Too bad his fights are down because I really can't watch the punching bag anymore. Stewart is a restricted Free Agent next year. Barring any set backs, he'll be back in burgundy and blue for sure as we don't exactly have a ton of depth on the wings.

Mid Season Grade: A-

Last Season's Final Grade: C+


 

 

Matt Duchene

#9 / Center / Colorado Avalanche

Height: 5-11

Weight: 200

Born: Jan 16, 1991


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 41 11 14 25 -8 6 4 1 1 83 13.3

Dutchy is probably the most exciting player on the roster. MHH was abuzz with excitement even before he was drafted and that enthusiasm still permeates every single game. We all know about the skill and smarts this kid possesses. But what is surprising is how much we heard about his rad two way play before the season, and how bad his two way play has been. Now before you crucify me, know that in the first half of the season his -8 was the worst +/- on the team second only to his often awful linemate Svatos (-9). His -8 looks even more shoddy when compared to fellow rookie O'Reilly's glimmering +9. At only 18, Duchene took some time before he truly looked at home in the NHL, but he has never looked totally lost or completely in over his head. At times, he even dominated and made NHL veterans look silly (I'm talking to you Chris Osgood). Teamed with linemates who have a little more ~ahem~ talent, Duchene will look/get better and better. In the last month he REALLY turned up the heat and has looked simply awesome. He was named NHL rookie of the month for December (however this honor came after the mid-point of the season so it's unfair to include it in the grading) He is the real deal and I have to take a cold shower when I think of how good the AVS are looking down the middle long term. 

Mid Season Grade: B+ 

Last Season's Grade: N/A

 

 

Ryan O'Reilly

 

#37 / Center / Colorado Avalanche

Height: 6-0

Weight: 200

Born: Feb 7, 1991

 


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 41 5 13 18 9 12
0 0 2 61 8.2

Radar may be the biggest surprise coming out of training camp. This fellow 18 year old rookie has wowed everyone with his amazing all around play. He is a top penalty killer (which is huge because now our top 3 forwards don't HAVE to kill penalties all the time), strong at even strength as his +9 illustrates, and he has scored a couple big time goals. He came out strong throwing down a 7 game point streak early on, and tying Svatos' obscure Avalanche record for points in October by a rookie (11). His offense says a lot because he has exclusively been a 3rd & 4th liner. On the downside, he only tallied one point in the last 17 games before the mid point. Otherwise, he has been consistent, reliable, and strong in every aspect of the game. I wish he'd get a little more down and dirty at times rather than just poking at the puck, but I can live with him just being totally competent. 

Side note: it's interesting how different he a Dutchy are, but how complete they both are.

Mid Season Grade: B

Last Season's Final Grade: N/A

 

 

Darcy Tucker

#16 / Forward / Colorado Avalanche

Height: 5-10

Weight: 178

Born: Mar 15, 1975


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPP SHP GWG S S%  
1st Half 33 5 6 11 -3 23
2 0 1 39 12.8

I know we've all forgotten by now, by Tucker started the season red hot (for him) with 5 points in 6 games. Since then, he's scored an abysmal 6 points in 27 games up to the mid-point of the season. 90% of the time he throws a check he winds up half-dead on the ice afterward. He makes no one better and doesn't contribute anything to anyone (besides room & board for Radar). I loathe watching his hair flap in the wind during the pregame warm up. Seriously, I don't think he even touches a puck during warm up, he just glides around with his shampoo commercial flowing locks cascading ever-so-gently behind him. He's our 5th highest paid forward at $2.25 million, yet he is regularly invisible on the 3rd and 4th lines playing something that is not hockey. My guess is, if he's lucky, he gets traded at the deadline to a team who needs "veteran grit" and then is forced into retirement this summer by lack of interest in his lack of skill. Good riddance. Where's Laperriere again? Ugh. 

Mid Season Grade: D

Last Season's Final Grade: D+

 

 

 

T.J. Galiardi

#39 / Left Wing / Colorado Avalanche

 

Height: 6-2

Weight: 190

Born: April 22, 1988

 


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 31 4 11 15 2 10
2 0 0 39 10.3

Man, how likable is this new AVS team? Every one of these young kids is hard working and noticeably stoked to be playing NHL hockey. It's easy to get behind a team, and players, like that. Enough gushing. As good as O'Reilly has been, Galiardi has been the best defensive forward for the AVS through the first half of the season. He has single handedly broken up multiple odd man rushes based purely on his back check and hustle. He is averaging half-a-point per game and had he not lost time due to an ankle injury he may be challenging Duchene for the point lead among Avalanche rookies. Overall, he is 10th among all rookies despite the handicapped number of games. Like O'Reilly, Galiardi has scored some big time goals (a game tying goal with 16 seconds left against Florida and the game winner in the final minute against the BJs). It says a lot about these kids that they are on the ice at the end of games.

Mid Season Grade: B+

Last Season's Final Grade: N/A

 

 

David Koci

#28 / Left Wing / Colorado Avalanche

 

Height: 6-6

Weight: 238

Born: May 12, 1981

 


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 33 1 0 1 -1 64
0 0 0 4 25.0

 

The best thing Koci has done this season is get hit with a Brett Clark slapshot. Yes, he did get credit for a goal as that Clarkian blast did careen into the net after smacking into Koci (yet another item to smack the hell out of Koci and come away the victor), but it just as easily could have been a hamburger that the puck bounced in off of. If I'm being opaque, let me clarify: Koci is worthless. I plead for anyone to prove me otherwise. Go ahead. I want you to. I need somebody to enlighten me as to what purpose he serves? You say, "well he's an enforcer". Then I say, "he leads not the team in fights, PIMs, hits, or anything at all, except sucking - which is itself a feat as we do have Darcy Tucker". To be fair, The Punching Bag is second on the team in shooting percentage - even though none of his 4 shots went in the net. Hockey Stats are not a perfect science. Happily, my grading for Koci IS.

Mid Season Grade: F- (no such thing as an 'F-', well Koci could find a way.....)

Last Season's Final Grade: N/A

 

 

 

Cody McLeod

#55 / Left Wing / Colorado Avalanche

 

Height: 6-2

Weight: 210

Born: Jun 26, 1984

 


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 35 5 6 11 -1 68
0 0 1 59 8.5

 

The Highlander is on pace to basically match all of last year's totals - although his goal scoring is down a bit and his fights are actually up (probably due to the departures of the other Cody Mac & Lappy, as well as the abortive nature of the human punching bag). He leads the AVS in PIMs (68) and Hits (110). It's worth noting here that Cody doubled his point production in the second half of the season last year, so if he repeats that second half surge, he'll set career highs across the board. Cody McLeod is a warrior and a heart and soul guy. His play doesn't seem to catch my eye as much as last year, but when he does he makes me glad he's in burgundy and blue. Still, at this point he should be showing a bit more improvement.

Mid Season Grade: B-

Last Season's Final Grade: B

 

 

 

Matt Hendricks

#55 / Center/Left Wing / Colorado Avalanche

 

Height: 6-0

Weight: 215

Born: Jun 17, 1981

 


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 29 4 2 6 -1 37
0 1 1 22 18.2

 

At 28, Matt Hendricks is technically too old to be a rookie, but essentially that's just what he is. He's hasn't scored a point-per-game since high school, but that's not why he's on the roster. At best, he's a 4th liner for life, which it suits him nicely. He's third on the team with 5 fights (Hockey Fights has his record at 1-1-2) and 5th in PIMs. He sees some time on the PK and loves the rough stuff. It's hard to really expect anything from Hendricks, so whenever he gives us something we accept it gratefully. His short handed 2 on 0 give-and-go with McLeod against the Adjectives (thanks NurseBeachie) was pretty, but likely his lone highlight on the year.

Mid Season Grade: C+

Last Season's Final Grade: N/A

 

 

 

Chris Durno

#45 / Left Wing / Colorado Avalanche

Height: 6-4

Weight: 205

Born: Halloween, 1980


GP G A PTS +/- PIM
PPG SHG GWG S S%  
1st Half 14 2 2 4 5 13
0 0 0 11 18.2

Poor Durno. He's been called up 4 times already this season. With all that back and forth it's amazing he is even awake let alone playing decent hockey. He does great with Lake Erie when he's there, and when he actually suits up for the AVS he's performed his role adequately. He's scored his 4 points on two different point streaks - so when Durno gets hot, lookout!!

I saw his first NHL goal from my seat in the Can - well, actually nobody saw it. I'm not sure how it slid under/past/around Alex Auld, but who cares, NHL GOAL! Durno is a big cat and doesn't shy away from the dark and dirty places on the ice. Much like Hendricks, he is a good, older rookie, role player. But he seems to have a little more upside than Hendricks in terms of versatility and defensive responsibility. With only 14 games it's hard to give him a full grade, so I'll regress to elementary school standards.

Mid Season Grade: Satisfactory

Last Season's Final Grade: N/A

 

 

 -----------------------------------------------------------------

 

The following players have suited up for just a handful of games and so receive 'Incompletes' at the mid-season point:

T.J. Hensick: 7 games, 3 points. The 'other' TJ is currently tearing it up in the AHL and was named player of the month for December. He has 25 points in 18 games with the Monsters. Last Season's Final Grade: D+.

Brandon Yip: 5 games, 2 points (he scored 2 goals in game #42, and looks to be a sweet addition to the young roster. He's fast, tough, and possesses keen offensive instincts).

Philippe Dupuis: 4 games, 1 point.

Brian Willsie: 4 games, 0 points. Last Season Final Grade: D+.

Ryan Stoa: 2 games, 0 points. Currently sits 3rd on Lake Erie in scoring. If he learns how to skate with the big kids, he could be a great 2nd/3rd line power forward type guy someday.

Justin Mercier: 3 games, 0 points

 -----------------------------------------------------------------

General Consensus: This mix bag of forwards really compliment each other well. The skill and speed levels are up from last season, as is the defense play and all around responsibility of each player. The best thing about this year's crop of forwards is that they are fun to watch. The winning helps too, but when you have guys that you can root for and that play their hearts out night in and night out, it's exciting to be an AVS fan again. 

 

MileHighHockey.com is a fan community, allowing members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Colorado Avalanche and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editors of MileHighHockey.com.

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