Now that we've reached the half-way point of the season, it's time for the midterm grades. This isn't going to be easy, but I'll go down the Canes roster numerically and grade them all. Feel free to bust my chops if you disagree with a grade. Please note that some of these grades will be given based on rash decisions.
#2 Glen Wesley -- B+
The ancient defenseman is still extremely reliable. He seldomly makes mistakes in the defensive zone, and does an outstanding job on the penalty kill. Offensively, he leaves a bit to be desired, and has had a tiny bit of difficulty with his infrequent opportunities to run the point on power play. A great player, but slowing down with age.
#6 Bret Hedican -- B-
A very sound defenseman, who, like Wesley, is letting his age and injuries catch up to him. He's a phenomenal skater with good passing skills. He's on pace to have a good season in terms of assists, but he's not active enough in that whole "joining the rush" thing to make any waves in goal scoring. He's doing a good job, but he can't be as physical as he used to be, and occasionally it hurts the Canes.
# 7 Nick Wallin (aka "Nicky", aka "Secret Weapon") -- B+
The defenseman has been set back by a couple of injuries, and had one or perhaps two "bad games", but aside from that, he's been very solid. Since last season, he's picked up his level of physical intensity, and has really cranked up the hit-meter. He does a good job of finding the right place to be when the goaltender is out of position. Although he has an uncanny knack of coming up with some clutch plays, he doesn't bring much to the table offensively, and really can't be trusted to handle the puck.
#8 Tim Gleason -- incomplete -- B
Gleason has been a very pleasant surprise for the Canes. Acquired over the summer from the Kings in the "Jack Johnson deal", there weren't many expectations for him. Right away, he was forced to be a major blue line player, and he didn't disappoint. He's been victim to a few injuries, keeping him out of about 14 games so far, and he played hurt in a few others. When he's been healthy, he's been very good, but we really don't know. No offensive skills, but he's a very physical defenseman, and has displayed the ability to take over the defensive zone. By the time he's done developing, he should be an outstanding defenseman. It's not really fair to give him a grade since we haven't seen enough of him playing healthy, but I sure have liked what I've seen.
#11 Justin Williams (aka Viva)-- A+
Viva has been arguably the Canes best player this season. He may still be developing, but he tallied 76 (31/45) points last season, and is on pace to match that this season, with more points coming from goals. He's on pace for 37 goals, but I think he'll have no trouble reaching 40. A power forward with explosive speed, good puck handling skills and a nose for the front of the net, he's always in the right place at crucial moments. It's no surprise to me that at the halfway point, he's leading the entire League in game winning goals (6) and leading the team in shorties (2). He still commits more stick fouls than we'd like, but he more than makes up for it with his point production and his high level of "team toughness".
That's it for now. This is tougher than I imagined, and I'll have to do these five players at a time.
5 years ago