WorSharks 2012-2013 final report card

By Darryl Hunt - Last updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment


As the American Hockey League playoffs continue on and many more teams join the Worcester Sharks in having the summer off it’s time to grade the WorSharks players. We’ve set the arbitrary limit at 30 games, and then made an exception for enforcer Jimmy Bonneau. The players are listed by position, with forwards going first, followed by the defense and goaltenders. The last section is off ice personnel.

Players have been graded on how well they’ve done against the expectations that have been set for them and how well they’ve done compared to the other players on the roster. When looking at the grades remember that a “C” is average, meaning the player has done what was expected of them or that their play based on the other players on the roster has been average in nature. The contract status listed is what they will be as July 1st at the time of this posting, and NHL salary listed is their potential amount against the NHL salary cap.

Forwards
Bracken Kearns (66 games, 21-25-46, -2, 73PIM)
Contract status: NHL UFA
Statistically Kearns had an average season for him, but those numbers were good enough to be the WorSharks leader in goals, assists, points, shots, and was second only to Tim Kennedy in points per game. He was the WorSharks lone representative at this season’s AHL All-Star Classic, replacing the injured Kennedy. Simply put, Kearns was Worcester’s best all around player. He’s a player Worcester fans would love to have back next season.
Grade: A

Tim Kennedy (37 games, 13-24-37, +8, 19PIM)
Contract status: NHL UFA
When he was recalled to San Jose Kennedy was the team leader in every offensive stat you can think of. Despite playing in far less games that most of the top scorers Kennedy still ended up tied for fourth in goals, and second in assist and points. His +8 was second on the team, and he was one of only three regular players to be plus on the season. Kennedy was the only WorSharks player to average a point per game. Without him in the line-up Worcester’s anemic offense sputtered even more.
Grade: B

Jon Matsumoto (60 games, 14-18-32, -17, 30PIM)
Contract status: NHL UFA
Matsumoto was the biggest disappointment on Worcester’s roster this season. Entering this campaign on a five season 20 goal streak Matsumoto sleepwalked through most of the year netting just 14 goals and had a team worst (-17) on the season. His three game winning goals all came in a seven game span over the Christmas holidays, but other than that he was basically invisible. And for the highest paid player on the team, that is simply unacceptable.
Grade: F

Danill Tarasov (43 games, 14-14-28, E, 20PIM)
Contract status: 1st of 2 year NHL ELC ($800K/$60K)
After spending the first half of the season on the AHL roster but only playing in a single game (the WorSharks have never officially commented as to why that was) Tarasov was sent off to San Francisco. After posting 14 points in 17 ECHL games Tarasov was recalled to Worcester and never looked back, averaging a point per game over his next 12 AHL contests and ending up fourth on the team in scoring. Toward the end of the season it looked like many teams were shadowing Tarasov. High praise for a rookie.
Grade: B

Freddie Hamilton (76 games, 13-13-26, -9, 16PIM)
Contract status: 2nd of 3 year NHL ELC ($878,333/$67,500)
The scouting report on Hamilton was a shutdown defensive forward, but the rookie showed lots of offensive skills notching a team leading four game winning goals and two shorthanded tallies. It took Hamilton a little while to catch on to many of the pro “tricks” on taking face-offs, but by season’s end he was Worcester’s top centerman on draws in their defensive end. The WorSharks don’t have a “best prospect” award, but if they did Hamilton would be an easy winner.
Grade: A

John McCarthy (65 games, 9-16-25, -12, 12PIM)
Contract status: 2nd of 2 year NHL contract ($612,500)
It would take only a handful of seconds looking at the stats to see this was the worst season so far in McCarthy’s pro career. Effort wasn’t issue, it was purely a results problem. Perhaps it was the pressure of wearing the captain’s “C”, or maybe it was one of a myriad of possibilities, but obviously there was something different this season from the previous three. Despite the one-way contract for next season odds are good he’ll be starting the season in the AHL. It’s up to him how long he stays there.
Grade: D

James Sheppard (34 games, 8-15-23, E, 52PIM)
Contract status: NHL RFA
The only reason Sheppard was even here in Worcester was the NHL lockout, but it’s hard to tell who benefited more from him being here. Even though Sheppard had some rough games the WorSharks were a different team–and not in a good way–when he wasn’t here. Sheppard is a bona-fide NHL player, and it showed the vast majority of games he was out there. Short of a conditioning assignment Sheppard will likely never see the AHL again.
Grade: B

Brodie Reid (34 games, 10-11-21, -1 19PIM)
Contract status: NHL RFA
Reid matched his goal total from last season in half as many games, but the problem is he only managed to play in half as many games. Like last season when his season was cut short due to an injury Reid suffered two serious injuries that limited him to just 34 contests. Despite making huge gains in his offensive skills the big question about Reid is if he can stay on the ice for a full pro season. Hockey is full of players with lots of skill that can’t stay healthy. Hopefully for Reid doesn’t turn into one of those players.
Grade: B

James Livingston (67 games, 7-14-21, +13, 78PIM)
Contract status: 3rd of 3 year NHL ELC ($605K/$60K)
There’s a reason Livingston was a unanimous choice in the post season awards for 7th player/Unsung Hero, and his +12 on a roster full of minus players is the reason. While Livingston’s offensive numbers were virtually identical to last season he was a significantly better all-around hockey player. Not blessed with the talent that some of his teammates have Livingstone uses hard word and tenacity to overwhelm his opponents. If Livingston can find a way to add just a little more offense to his game he might find himself in the NHL sooner than later.
Grade: A

Yanni Gourde (54 games, 8-6-14, -11, 41PIM)
Contract status: AHL UFA
Gourde has all the tools to play at the AHL level but it took a long while, and a trip to the ECHL, for him to really catch his stride this season. He is without a doubt the fastest skater on the team but seemed reluctant to use that speed at times, many times peeling off with the puck in the offensive zone instead of going to the net. Despite Gourde not having the kind of season everyone was hoping he would have Worcester should look at bringing him back. The ability is there, the only question is if the WorSharks can tap into it.
Grade: D

Travis Oleksuk (60 games, 3-10-13, -13, 12PIM)
Contract status: 2nd of 2 year NHL ELC ($925K/$70K)
After a senior year at UMN-Duluth that saw Oleksuk score a point per game Worcester was looking for the pro rookie to generate some offense. Unfortunately, averaging under .25 points per game wasn’t exactly what the doctor ordered. Oleksuk was simply not able to compete at the AHL level, and the preseason talk of him getting spot duty in the San Jose line-up quickly died down. The holes in Oleksuk’s pro game are numerous, and a single off-season may not be enough to fix them.
Grade: F

Curt Gogol (38 games, 4-2-6, -4, 139PIM)
Contract status: 2nd year of 3 year NHL ELC ($551,667/60K)
Gogol has some talent to play hockey but it often gets lost with him looking to be an agitator. At some point in his career Gogol has to decide if he wants to be an AHL/NHL hockey player or a minor league side show. That point is probably now. And if he chooses to be a side show, his pro career will be a short one. There are lots of players at this level–and lower–that are better at that than he is. But he does get to make that choice. Hopefully he chooses wisely.
Grade: C

Jimmy Bonneau (26 games, 1-0-1, -3, 81PIM)
Contract status: AHL UFA
Ask Bonneau what he is and he’ll come right out and tell you: a fighter. But he probably has the most “hockey smarts” on the WorSharks roster. On the ice you get what you get with Bonneau, but because starting next season he’s classified as an AHL veteran he may have a hard time hooking on in the league. But when his career is over he’ll have no issues getting a job in the sport. Some day Bonneau could make the NHL…behind the bench.
Grade: A

Defensemen
Matt Tennyson (60 games, 5-22-27, -6, 44PIM)
Contract status: 2nd of 2 year NHL ELC ($1.175M/$70K)
After three years at Western Michigan this season was supposed to be the year he got his pro career seasoned a little to make a potential run at an NHL roster spot for 2013-14, but injuries in San Jose forced the organization to rush him to the big club maybe a little before he was ready. Despite it being a little too early for him it can’t be looked at anything but a positive in his development into a solid two-way NHL blueliner. He still has a little ways to get there, but the remaining journey will be a short one.
Grade: B

Sena Acolatse (50 games, 4-17-21, -7, 62PIM)
Contract status: 3rd of 3 year NHL ELC ($900K/$67,500)
For the second season in a row a freak facial injury required Acolatse to wear a cage for long periods of time, and that really took away from his physical style of game. It’s almost like Acolatse should get two grades, one before his injury and one after, because his play was remarkably different afterward simply because of the head gear he was forced to wear. A solid two way player, the loss of the threat of him dropping the gloves gave opponents a situation they were more than willing to take advantage of.
Grade: C

Denny Urban (36 games, 4-13-17, -11, 10PIM)
Contract status: AHL UFA
An offense-first defenseman Urban really shined when he first arrived in Worcester, grabbing more than half his points in his first 14 games with the WorSharks. But soon after teams were able to figure out his defensive shortcomings and started targeting him during odd man rushes. Urban is a decent AHL depth defenseman, but unless his defensive liabilities can be worked out he’s likely reached his developmental ceiling. Urban also saw spot duty at forward and didn’t look out of place.
Grade: C

Danny Groulx (33 games, 4-12-16, +4, 24PIM)
Contract status: NHL UFA
Without a doubt Groulx lost a step or two since his Eddie Shore Award (best AHL defenseman) winning campaign in 2009-10, but despite that he was still a viable AHL blueliner that breathed some life into the WorSharks power play. Perhaps because of his previous season in Worcester the bar was set too high for Groulx, and a concussion that caused him to miss nearly two months didn’t help. Groulx was eventually loaned to Chicago (AHL) by San Jose in exchange for Derek Joslis,
Grade: D

Matt Irwin (35 games 1-14-15, E, 26PIM)
Contract status: 1st of 2 year NHL contract ($1M)
Irwin was a solid two-way defenseman with the WorSharks, and was expected to see spot duty in the NHL this season. Due to injuries in San Jose Irwin spent a significant amount of time with the big club, and was named their “rookie of the year”. There’s a very good chance we’ve seen the last of Irwin as being an everyday player in Worcester.
Grade: B

Taylor Doherty (40 games, 1-9-10, -2, 67PIM)
Contract status: 3rd of 3 year NHL ELC ($840K/$67,500)
The best thing that can be said about Doherty is he got better since his rookie campaign last season. Of course, he really had no place to go but up. The defenseman with the offensive skills that San Jose drafted from the Kingston Frontenacs in 2009 is a thing of the past, and right now Taylor isn’t anywhere near close to being a defenseman with NHL level talent. At age 22 Doherty really needs to learn how to use his 6’8″ frame in the pro game, because being a physical shutdown defenseman is the only way he’s making it to the NHL.
Grade: D

Matt Pelech (58 games, 3-4-7, -16, 238PIM)
Contract status: NHL UFA
Arguably one of the most physical players in the AHL, Pelech split duty at forward and defense for Worcester this season. Starting–and ending–the campaign on the blue line it was obvious that onrushing players wanted no part of Pelech and his bone crunching body checks. Nearly every puck that went into the zone on his side was dumped in. At forward Pelech was just as much a monster, creating scoring chances by pulverizing opponents at they tried to break out of their zone. He’s the kind of player most teams want at the AHL level.
Grade: B

Nick Petrecki (42 games, 1-5-6, -2, 135PIM)
Contract status: NHL RFA
The last couple of season have been the same for Petrecki, where it looked like he was ready to make the jump to the NHL only to suddenly forget everything he learned and turn into that bumbling rookie player he was four seasons ago. San Jose has a big decision this off season in if they’ll keep Petrecki one more season or not. His flashes of brilliance show there’s something there, but his inability to keep his level of play high enough for NHL play is becoming an issue for him.
Grade: D

Goaltenders
Harri Sateri (39 games, 14-21-3, 2.89, .903)
Contract status: NHL RFA
Statistically Sateri’s numbers are pretty close to last season, but his play was much better overall. Like many Finnish goaltenders Sateri really needs to work on catching the puck, but despite still not being very good at it even in that aspect of the game he improved greatly. Next season Sateri should start out as the number one goalie in Worcester–provided he re-signs–and will get ample opportunity to make his mark in the organization.
Grade: C

Alex Stalock (38 games, 17-16-4, 2.60, .912)
Contract status: NHL RFA
The heir presumptive to San Jose’s starting goaltender’s job in the near future, Stalock showed he was completely healed from his nerve injury of two seasons ago. Stalock’s play was nearly as good as his record setting rookie campaign, and had there been a better team playing in front of him Stalock may have come close to matching those numbers. There are no glaring holes in Stalock’s game, and after a season as the back-up in the NHL should easily step into the starting role in San Jose.
Grade: B

Off ice personel
Head coach Roy Sommer
On paper this was a team that should have had no issues making the AHL playoffs. Instead for the third season in a row they finish outside the playoffs and for the second time in as many season end up 13th in the conference. At some point hockey operations in San Jose has to realize the Roy Sommer era needs to end, and that some new blood in developing prospects might help them in winning the Stanley Cup.
Grade: F

Associate coach David Cunniff
Given a title bump before the season started and one of the final candidates for a vacant assistant coach job in San Jose over the summer its time to hand the reigns to Cunniff. He is the coach that specializes in the defenseman, and not too surprisingly that’s where many of San Jose’s better home-grown players have come from recently. The man deserves a chance, and it’s time the Sharks organization gave it to him
Grade: B

GM Wayne Thomas
Not sure how much more Thomas could have done this season. He went out and got what should have been solid players to start the season and signed some decent talent when the NHL lockout ended and Worcester needed bodies, but it all went for naught as the team once again missed the playoffs. This season, however, the only blame he’ll get is if he and San Jose GM Doug Wilson don’t make a coaching change here for the WorSharks during the off season.
Grade: B

WorSharks President Mike Mudd
Once again Mudd and his staff get this writer’s vote for the best in the AHL. There pretty much isn’t any more that can be said that I haven’t repeated multiple times already.
Grade: A

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