Now that the hockey season has wrapped up across the board, it is time to evaluate how BC hockey alums did this season. We’ll start by checking in with players that ended their season in the NHL, with features on minor leaguers, women’s hockey players, and European league players next week. I’ll be assigning players grades based on their season performances, but surprising nobody they’ll sometimes be actual letter grades and sometimes they won’t be!
Cam Atkinson (Columbus Blue Jackets)
2016-17 Season Grade: A++++ Please appreciate him more
Atkinson had the best year of his career this season, proving to doubters that his size won’t keep him from becoming an elite hockey player. Atkinson set personal bests across the board during the regular season with 62 points, 27 assists, 35 goals, and a +13. This was his first 30+ NHL season. Atkinson was also named to the 2017 NHL All Star Game and was tied for 6th overall in regular season goals across the league.
2016-17 Season Grade: B
Boyle, who had been a 3 year alternate captain for the Lightning, was traded to Toronto at the trade deadline this season. He has a decent season while with the Lightning, scoring 13 goals and recording 9 assists, but struggled a bit with the Maple Leafs. He recorded only 3 points in his 21 regular season games with the Leafs and 2 in 6 playoff games - all 5 points were assists. On the plus side, Boyle continues to be a fairly strong face-off guy. He was 32nd in the league this year, winning 52.2% of face-offs.
Brian Dumoulin (Pittsburgh Penguins)
2016-17 Season Grade: Stanley Cup Champ = success
Dumoulin won his second Stanley Cup in as many years with the Penguins, continuing to prove himself as a defensive leader for Pittsburgh. Dumoulin was not always perfect this season, and he dealt with a handful of injuries, but he saw significant ice time and contributed on both ends of the ice. He had 1 goal and 14 assists during the regular season, and recorded a goal and 5 assists in the post-season. He also maintained a +9 rating during the playoffs, improving just when the Penguins really needed it.
2016-17 Season Grade: A+++++ The star of the 2016-17 season, don’t @ me
Nobody had a season quite like Patrick Eaves did in 2016-17. Eaves, who was in his 12th year in the pros last season, smashed his previous season bests. Eaves scored a previous career high of 20 NHL goals during his rookie season - as a 12 year veteran player, he scored 32. He scored a previous career high of 32 points in 2006-07 - 10 years later, he scored 51. Eaves is a player that has struggled with injuries throughout his career, so it was particularly amazing to see him have a record year so far into his career. He was 9th in the NHL in regular season goals 4th in powerplay goals (with 13).
Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames)
2016-17 Season Grade: B
An average year for Johnny Gaudreau would be a great year for anybody else, but Johnny Hockey struggled to score this season, particularly after receiving the first major injury of his adult career. He had an impressive 43 assists this season, but scored only 18 goals and recorded the first negative +/- of his career (-7). Despite not quite living up to his potential in NHL play, Gaudreau had a stellar year in international play. He had 2 goals and 2 assists over 3 World Cup games and ended the year by leading Team USA in points (11) and goals (6) at the 2017 IIHF World Championship.
Brian Gionta (Buffalo Sabres)
2016-17 Season Grade: 10/10 for longevity
Gionta, who has been Buffalo’s captain since joining the team in 2014-15 and was Montreal’s captain for 4 seasons prior, played in his 1,000th career NHL game this season. He does not put up the numbers he did in his prime, but at 38 years old 15 goals and 35 points is pretty impressive. Buffalo had yet another rough year, but as a player that many had written off as retirement-ready years ago, Gionta is looking good.
Stephen Gionta (New York Islanders, Bridgeport Sound Tigers)
2016-17 Season Grade: N/A, season significantly shortened due to injury
Gionta started the 2016-17 season with an injury, and ended up playing only 7 AHL games and 26 NHL games this year. He’s never been able to put up the numbers in the NHL that he has in the NHL, but did record a goal and 5 assists over his 26 games with the Islanders.
Noah Hanifin (Carolina Hurricanes)
2016-17 Season Grade: B+
Hanifin was a bright spot for a struggling Hurricanes team in 2016-17. His -19 rating wasn’t great, but recorded a career high 29 points, including 25 assists. Hanifin was named to Team USA at the conclusion of the regular season and recorded 2 assists in the IIHF World Championship.
Jimmy Hayes (Boston Bruins)
2016-17 Season Grade: Do I have to?
Jimmy Hayes did not have a good season. He played in 58 games for the Bruins, was a healthy scratch for the rest, and had only 2 goals and 3 assists on the season. Hayes recorded 35 points for the Florida Panthers in 2014-15 and certainly has more talent than his 2016-17 numbers suggest. One has to wonder if the pressure of playing for a hometown crowd every night, in front of all of his family and friends, is not the best thing for Hayes.
Kevin Hayes (New York Rangers)
2016-17 Season Grade: A
Hayes had his best season yet in 2016-17, matching his season high 17 goals and setting new career highs in assists (32) and points (49). Hayes scored 4 game winning goals for the Rangers this season, as well as 7 power play goals. He joined Team USA for had 2 goals and 2 assists over 3 games.
Chris Kreider (New York Rangers)
2016-17 Season Grade: A
Kreider set a career high with 28 goals and reached 50 points for the first time in his NHL career, ending the regular season with 53. He also scored 3 goals in the playoffs. Kreider, who is known by fans of other teams for his toughness, also had 58 penalty minutes - way down from the 88 he had in 2014-15!
Michael Matheson (Florida Panthers)
2016-17 Season Grade: B+ he is going to have a long and successful career in the NHL don’t @ me
Matheson played in his first full NHL season in 2016-17 and saw significant ice time for the Panthers. He made a few defensive errors here and there, but was skilled enough to quickly become a core member of the Panthers defense. Matheson recorded 7 points, including 7 goals, a respectable number for a defensive defenseman. He also played for Team Canada in the IIHF World Championship where he scored 1 goal and notched 6 assists.
Brooks Orpik (Washington Capitals)
2016-17 Season Grade: Brooks Orpik is just Brooks Orpik
Brooks Orpik keeps doing what Brooks Orpik has always done: taking and dispensing lots of hits, spending time in the penalty box, and picking up some assists. He had only 48 penalty minutes in 2016-17, and recorded 14 regular season assists. He led the team with an impressive +32 during the regular season, but dropped to a -7 during the playoffs. Orpik is in his 8th straight season as an NHL alternate captain.
Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils)
2016-17 Season Grade: C, Schneids is better than this.
Cory Schneider is a very good goalie whose team has been unable to back him up over the past few seasons. This season was not his best, as he had a 2.82 GAA and a .908 save percentage. This is the first full NHL season he has played in where his save percentage has dropped below .921. This was also the first season in which has had a losing record. On the bright side, Schneider did play in one game for Team USA in the World Cup and earned a shutout.
Ben Smith (Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs)
2016-17 Season Grade: Concussions are bad
Smith has a couple bad concussions during his professional career, and has since been able to put up the numbers he used to be capable of. Smith spent the majority of this season with the Maple Leafs, picking up 2 goals and 2 assists in 36 games. Smith does continue to be strong on the face-off, winning 51.4% of the time.