CINCINNATI, OH – After Sunday afternoon’s 3-2 loss to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, the Cincinnati Cyclones are officially halfway home through the 2016-2017 season. With 36 games down, and 36 to go, the Cyclones currently sit at 5th place in the South Division with a 17-15-4-0 record with 38 points, just three points behind Greenville for the 4th and final playoff spot in the division.
This will be something new this year that I’ve never done before, and that is the Midterm Report Card. Halfway through the season, we know how the Cyclones have fared as a team, but how has everyone fared individually?
Here’s how this is going to work. Each player on the Cyclones’ roster will receive an A-F grade based on their performance so far. Only players on the current active roster will be graded. Players who have been traded, released, or are currently up in the AHL will not be graded as they are no longer with the team. For players who are on the active roster, but have played less than five games this season, their grade will come up “inconclusive” as they haven’t played a fair amount of games to be graded.
Players who will NOT be given a midterm grade:
Kenny Ryan, Justin Vaive, Jonathan Diaby, Brad Thiessen, Justin Kirkland, Anthony Richard, Dante Salituro, Frank Misuraca, Greg Betzold, Eric Robinson, Teddy Doherty, Jacob Graves, Shawn O’Donnell, Gabryel Boudreau
Without further adieu, here we go!
Andrew Yogan: A+
Even though he started the season in Europe and was a late addition to the roster, he’s still the same Andrew Yogan the Cyclones saw last season. Leading the team in goals with 13, and points overall with 30, it’s only fitting he leads the team on the grade card as well. Primarily known as a playmaker, he was also guy I’d like to see take more shots, and with the absence of Jack Downing, it’s great to see him start to score as many goals as he does setting them up.
Michael Houser: A
Houser has been the Cyclones rock in goal since being reassigned by the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. Out of all the “qualified” goalies (720 minutes played or more) in the entire league, he ranks 2nd in both goals against average (2.25) and save percentage (0.926). Being the most consistent goaltender the Cyclones have, he’s a big reason the Cyclones are where they are.
Shane Walsh: A
Another gem that Matt Macdonald found through the trade block, he’s put up 15 points in 18 games with Cincinnati since being acquired from Utah. A smaller guy with a lot of speed that handles the puck well, don’t hold your breath to see him in the ECHL long. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he lands an AHL deal over the off-season.
Eric Knodel: A
Knodel is the Cyclones All Star Game representative for a reason. He start the season VERY slow and wasn’t playing up to the potential he felt he could play at. As the season progressed, he really blossomed and has been the team’s best defenseman for the better part of the season. Leading all Cyclones defensemen in scoring, he still holds himself solidly defensively with a +10 rating while he’s an offensively minded defenseman
Arvin Atwal: A
Atwal brings just about everything to the table. He can fight (leads the team in penalty minutes with a whopping 82 PIM’s), is a top three defenseman behind Knodel by tying his +10 rating, and can score if you need him to as well. He gave me some mixed signals at the start of the year with his resume from juniors but he’s had a hell of a rookie season so far.
Saverio Posa: A-
Posa is somebody who normally doesn’t get noticed but has been one of the Cyclones most consistent defensemen. He’s a stay-at-home defenseman that does his job. He doesn’t account for much in terms of offense but when he’s on the ice, goals against aren’t easy to come by.
Tommy Mele: B+
A bit snake-bitten by injures, Mele has only played in 15 games this year. But those injuries haven’t slowed him down much as he’s put up 10 points in that time span. He’s still the same gritty, offensive catalyst we’ve all come to know.
Brandon McNally: B+
McNally came to the Queen City in a packaged deal with Walsh. Through, I had mixed feelings about him. In his second full season as a pro, it just seemed like he really didn’t know what he wanted to do. As time went on, it was discovered that the guy has a lot of offensive potential, accounting for 13 points in 18 games since the trade.
He’s also amassed 43 penalty minutes in that time span and sometimes, I wish he would stop trying to be the “enforcer” and focus on his offensive skills a bit more, especially at times when the Cyclones offense has been beaten with injuries.
Jordan Sims: B
Sims is another guy that doesn’t get noticed as often as he probably should. He’s a guy that puts 110% effort for every shift, but just hasn’t gotten rewarded on the score-sheet as often. There were stretches of games where he was the Cyclones best player on the ice. Makes a lot of smart decisions with the puck and creates a lot of offensive chances, just hasn’t been getting the results.
Jaynen Rissling: B
It has been a career year for Rissling. A career high in goals (4), assists (11), and points (15) in his third year as a professional. It’s been an interesting year for the guy as he started the season on defense, but shifted to forward after the Cyclones offense took a blow with injuries.
When the wounds up front heal up, I’ll be curious if Head Coach Matt Macdonald keeps Rissling as a forward or shifts him back to defense. Rissling’s game has really blossomed as of late as a forward, including a two-goal night in Wheeling a couple weeks ago.
Seth Ambroz: B
One of only three returning guys from last season, Ambroz has been another one that had the injury bug to start the season. Still not much of an offensive weapon, he was the Cyclones notorious tough guy last season, totaling 98 penalty minutes in 58 games. He’s really toned it down a bit this year with only 19 penalty minutes in 22 games. Either that or he’s picked up some “street cred” and now nobody wants a piece of him.
Nick Huard: B
Nothing new to add here from what has already been seen since Huard first arrived in Cincinnati almost two years ago. He’s at around the same pace of offensive production he was at last season with 19 points through 36 games so far. He’s a big specialty teams asset and is a definitive factor in why the penalty kill and power play have both drastically improved throughout the season.
His Achilles heel continues to be on the defensive side of things. Last year, he finished the season with a -22 rating. This year, he’s only at a -4 so far. He’s gotten better with it but still needs to fine tune some things.
Peter LeBlanc: B-
It’s a double-edged sword with LeBlanc. He’s a veteran that’s more than capable of being a regular producer offensively as he’s the team leader in assists (20) and second overall in points (29).
Like Huard, the hole in his game comes on the defensive side of things as his -14 rating is the worst on the team. He’s out there for a lot of goals scored but he’s also out there for a lot of goals against.
Mark Visentin: C+
Coming off of back-to-back season-ending ankle surgeries the past couple seasons, it’s been a very up-and-down season for Visentin. There were stretches of really, really low games at the start of the season where he couldn’t buy a save and every puck somehow found it’s way into the net.
However, we got a taste of what Mark Visentin could really do last week when he went on a 3-0-0 run with one shutout, earning “ECHL Goalie of the Week” honors. If he can keep that level of play consistent, then the Cyclones have a damn fine goaltending duo the rest of the way.
Dylan Nowakowski: C
Nowakowski just barely squeaking in as he’s played five games exactly or else he would’ve fell into the “inconclusive” file. He hasn’t registered a point in that time and hasn’t played any serious on-ice minutes so there’s not enough to push him into the A-B’s and there’s not enough to knock him down to the D’s. So, he gets hit with a nice, solid C.
Troy Vance: C
Vance is an offensively minded defenseman like Knodel; likes to jump up into the rush and help generate offense. However, it just hasn’t worked out as well for him as he’s only put up three points in the 21 games he’s played in. It’s hurt his defensive positioning as well when he can’t get back to defend the rush and has a -6 on the season.
Dominic Zombo: C
In his second season as a professional, Zombo was somebody that started the season hot and was actually the leading point scorer for the first few weeks of the season. However, he’s really fallen off the wagon lately as he’s only posted two points in the last 14 games.
Rob De Fulviis: C
In his rookie campaign, De Fulviis has primarily been used as a utility player more than anything. Hasn’t been playing a ton of minutes and only has one goal and two assists in 24 games. There is a lot of potential for him though as he’s got a pair of jets on his legs and can do some nifty stuff with the puck on his stick. He’s also not afraid to stand up for his teammates as he is more than willing to mix it up with somebody if he needs to.
Let him season a bit in the pro world and he could be a big asset later down the road.
Colin Mulvey: C-
Like Yogan, Mulvey started the season over in Europe but had second thoughts and decided to return to North America just as training camp was beginning. To say it’s been an “off-year” would be an understatement. 20 points in 25 games with the Cyclones last year, and normally is hanging around that point-per-game mark, he’s only put up six points in 28 games this year.
Craig Dalrymple: D+
The rookie out of Ohio State has had a pretty rough rookie season. He’s put up 10 points in 36 games as a defenseman, but the problem with LeBlanc stands here as well. Dalrymple is a -10, the second worst on the team. He’s prone to make a lot of bad defensive decisions which have led to the puck winding up in the back of the net.
However, the bright side is the simple fact that he’s a rookie. These mistakes are going to happen. There’s still plenty of time for him to grow and develop.
Joel Rumpel: Inconclusive
It’s been an unfortunate situation for Rumpel. Coming in as the lone ECHL contracted goalie, he’s been sidelined all season by two AHL contracted goalies in Houser and Visentin, and has only appeared in two games, so we haven’t seen enough out of him to fairly judge him on his play.
Honestly, I think he’s a trooper for sticking around this long. I was expecting him to be the next Neil Conway by fleeing to Europe to get more ice time over there by now.
Do you agree or disagree with these grades? Be sure to let us know what you think on Twitter!