Now that the season is over, it's time to start the player grades, an annual rite of spring by which we put every player under a magnifying glass and tell you whether he sucked or not.
We're going to ease into this one a little bit by starting out with three players who played a grand total of 12 games, combining for less total ice time on the season than Tomas Tatar earned by himself. The three guys who ended up the longest-running joke on the weekly Roster Analysis posts for their dogged determination to remaining unhealthy won't get traditional grades because it's mean to give an F to the kid who missed the entire school year because he was hit by the bus on day 1 and never made any classes.
But that doesn't mean we can't talk about them.
#43 / Center / Detroit Red Wings
Jan 21, 1987
|2012 - Darren Helm||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||1|
Helm will be expected to earn the raise he was given this offseason with excellent PK work and impressive point output.
That's what the official WIIM season preview said and I like the guy who wrote that.
Aside from the broken face bone that Helm received, he had much worse problems than that. During the run-up to the end of the lockout, Helm overdid it on a workout and tweaked his back. Five months later, he's finished with a season that saw him play exactly one game (a 5-3 win over the Wild in which Helm played 5:30 of flawless PK). He kept slowly recovering and then having setbacks every time he tried ramping up the intensity of his workouts.
Helm, who has three more years left on his contract, will be expected to be ready to go by the time the 2013-14 season starts. He'll have time to rest whatever it is that ails him and will hopefully be careful enough not to slow down his rehabilitation by doing too much too soon. Back problems can be be tricky, but they don't necessarily have to be chronic.
Season Grade: Incomplete.
#44 / Right Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Feb 02, 1975
|2012 - Todd Bertuzzi||7||2||1||3||3||2||0||0||0||10|
Bert may find himself as the de facto replacement for Tomas Holmstrom as a net-front presence on the power play who sits on the lower lines to create space at the top.
From the same WIIM season preview as the Helm quote. Such a handsome-sounding writer on that piece.
Todd Bertuzzi was a downright iron man among the glass Joes in this post, playing seven games. Just like Helm, his very best game of the season was his first. It just so happened to be the exact same game too, January 25th vs. the Wild. Bert put up his only two goals of the season. One of them was even a net-front tip-in that dare I say was reminiscent of a certain angry Swedish redwood? Unfortunately, he missed 41 other games this season with back problems so serious that they necessitated a walker at times. He did get into six postseason games where he played light 4th line minutes, but his timing and conditioning just weren't there.
Bertuzzi will go into next season at age 38 on an expiring contract. He's genuinely liked in the locker room and I don't think his $2M cap hit is going to fall victim to a buyout, since he's likely just as easy to put on IR for cap room. Bert's expectations for next year won't be high, but I would hope that he gets to mentor some of the kids on the ways of being angry.
Season Grade: Incomplete.
#37 / Right Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Dec 23, 1976
|2012 - Mikael Samuelsson||4||0||1||1||-3||0||0||0||0||4|
I'm not the Sammy-hater that some people are (cough*Jeff*cough), but I'd much rather have a younger player like Nyquist or Brunner get the minutes that Samuelsson will likely get. Still, I think he'll fit in with the Wings and contribute on the power play.
That's Graham in the WIIM season preview of the Top Six. Graham also said this
His skating has never been the greatest and at 36 age and injuries may catch up with him.
Spooky... also still a funny visual that injuries literally outskated Samuelsson and overtook him.
Samuelsson outskated the injury bug for two games before it caught up and bit him. He's missed time with a sore groin, broken finger, injured shoulder, and most famously, a torn pectoral muscle (broken titty). Hilariously, despite his one point and -3 rating, Sammy actually played well in the roughly 20 total minutes he was in any sort of a groove. He even scored a goal in the playoffs.
Samuelsson has one year left on his two-year deal and will have a hit of $3M against the cap even if he retires (same as Bertuzzi, I guess, but more apt I feel). His name is very popular among fans as a buyout candidate. I don't know what to expect as far as the organization goes because Samuelsson brings a few different things the team probably wants. He's a right-handed shot who's willing to let fly at any opportunity. He's got some snarl and a veteran presence. The downsides are evident and will no doubt be shouted on high. He's not a great skater and he couldn't stay healthy. His shot isn't accurate and... hell I don't know... he probably smells like fishcheese. People hate him because he represents a roster spot that many feel should go to a younger player.
Season Grade: Incomplete.
Christian's got the next post. He'll be looking at the Grinders. Stay tuned.