November Grades - Defensemen & Goalies

Saturday, December 3, 2011
Simon Despres is getting a look by Pittsburgh right now.
With injuries to Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek, Ben Lovejoy, Brian Strait, Boris Valabik and the call ups of Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres, the organization's depth on the blue line has been tested. 

Without further ado, grades for these guys after the jump.

 Brad Thiessen
Season Stats: 19 games played, 10-6-2, 2.51 GAA, .899 SV%, 2 SO
November Stats: 9 games played, 4-3-2, 2.70 GAA, .888 SV%, 1 SO

Tough go of it for Thiessen as of late, but with the defense paper thin the slight drop is his stats should be expected. He's still giving the team a chance to win when he is in net. The two shoot out losses could easily have been wins and he was tagged with the loss against the Crunch when Scott Munroe allowed three goals on three shots, but Thiessen gave up four goals in three of his nine appearances this month. Not good for last year's AHL Goalie of the Year in November.
Grade: C+

Scott Munroe
Season Stats: 8 games played, 2-2-2, 2.48 GAA, .903 SV%, 2 SO
November Stats: 6 games played, 2-1-1, 2.35 GAA, .908 SV%, 1 SO

Take away the zero save performance in 10:48 of play against the Syracuse Crunch earlier in the month and a pretty good November for Munroe, who only appeared in two games in all of October. Again, numbers could be better but he actually had a better month than the team's #1 goalie in November.
Grade: B-

Joey Mormina
Season Stats: 24 games played, 3G, 1A, -4, 35 PIM
November Stats: 13 games played, 2G, 1A, -1, 31 PIM

Big month offensively for Mormina, who has now surpassed his goal total from last season. He led his "Movember" mustache for prostate cancer and other players also gave their support. All in all, a feel good story for Mormina this month. Took a lot of penalties but also playing a ton of important minutes.
Grade: B-

Carl Sneep
Season Stats: 23 games played, 0G, 8A, +3, 15 PIM
November Stats: 12 games played, 0G, 4A, +2, 11 PIM

Sat out a game and appeared to be in the doghouse, but his presence is certainly needed now with injuries/call-ups. Improving still in his second season of pro hockey and still has a ton of offensive upside. Still searching for his first goal of the season, and I have a feeling it will come in December. Mark it down.
Grade: B

Philip Samuelsson
Season Stats: 21 games played, 1G, 4A, +6, 8 PIM
November Stats: 13 games played, 1G, 3A, +6, 6 PIM

A lot of critics, but Ulf's kid is starting to silence them after his performance in November. The rookie defenseman is really learning a ton and gaining valuable experience. I still see him slotting in Wheeling if/when the organization's defensemen all get healthy, but he's making the most of his opportunity this past month.
Grade: A-

Cody Wild 
Season Stats: 14 games played, 0G, 1A, +4, 8 PIM
November Stats: 9 games played, 0G, 1A, +3, 6 PIM

Wild has more AHL experience than Sneep, Samuelsson and Grant and I think it showed in November. He hasn't made as much noise or been noticed as much as the other defensemen but I think that's a good thing sometimes because it means he isn't making many blaring mistakes that are costly to his team. 
Grade: B

Robert Bortuzzo
Season Stats: 11 games played, 1G, 2A, +5, 17 PIM
November Stats: 9 games played, 1G, 2A, +2, 11 PIM

Bortuzzo missed the start of the season with an injury and has been recalled to Pittsburgh, so only 11 games on the season. But the defensive defenseman has played well in the AHL for the WBS Penguins.  Hasn't even been paired much at all with his long lost defensive partner Brian Strait.
Grade: B+

Alex Grant
Season Stats: 10 games played, 0G, 4A, +7, 7 PIM
November Stats: 6 games played, 0G, 1A, +6, 2 PIM

After dressing for only two games in October, Grant got back into the daily AHL routine in November and posted an impressive plus six rating in six games. I think he'll get more comfortable as he continues to get regular playing time. Another guy making the most of his opportunity right now.
Grade: B+

Alexandre Picard
Season Stats: 14 games played, 1G, 6A, +8, 12 PIM
November Stats: 3 games played, 1G, 1A, +2, 6 PIM

Up and down month for Picard in terms of where he was playing as he split time between AHL and NHL. Clearly a great guy to have in Wilkes-Barre.
Grade: Incomplete

Simon Despres
Season Stats: 22 games played, 3G, 4A, +3, 26 PIM
November Stats: 13 games played, 2G, 3A, +3, 18 PIM

Still improving, Despres put a good month before getting a look by Pittsburgh.  He still takes a lot of penalties when he gets stuck on the ice too long and still has a lot to learn, but a ton of potential in this former first rounder.
Grade: A-


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