The regular season has come to a close for the 2013-’14 East Division Champion Binghamton Senators as we take a look into the final grades of the season. The fourth quarter was a rousing success finishing with a 11-5-2-1 record as the club was missing key components down the stretch due to injuries and call ups. The end results are a 44-24-3-5 record good for 96 points as head coach Luke Richardson has amassed a 88-48-4-12 in two years at the helm.
The fourth quarter saw the club return to first place in the East, then slightly fall to second, only to return atop as they went on to win the division. The Senators are seeded in third place in the Eastern Conference and will face their rivals once again, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. This will be a challenge for the Sens as they were eliminated rather quickly last season to the Pens but this year might have a different outcome as the club is rich in-depth unlike last season. Let’s hope so anyways.
A sprinkle of new faces were added to the line up as we get a small glimpse into the future for next season but let’s take on the task for the current players that have been here as it’s time for their final evaluation’s. Player’s previous marks are included for a season long comparison. Also team award winners are shown in bold print.
- #3 Fredrik Claesson B+/A-/A/A+ Top Defenseman Award Winner
Continues to be impressive and outstanding D man with great positional coverage. He can block shots, throw some thundering hits and skates well as a defensive defenseman. Very reliable on the penalty kill and you’ll always see him on the ice when the team is two men short. Decent shot from the point and accurate passer.
- #4 Mike Sdao C+/C+/C/C+
Has improved but falls short as I expected a little more out of him. Still a good player that can throw the mitts but is a work in progress. Could end up being a two or three-year project but has potential. Is compared to a previous defenseman now playing up top so with a little patience, he might make it.
- #5 Mark Borowiecki I*/B+/B/B-
Great leader as his passion is significant on and off the ice. Feared player that other teams have taken notice but just seems a step off his game here and there. Not much off as I’ll gladly like to have more of his caliber in character, but needs to tighten up his defensive efforts.
- #6 Chris Wideman B/B+/B+/B+
I’ve liked his style and finesse all season long as he plays big for a small guy. Can be relied on when it comes down to a pinch. Moves the puck well and reads the ice with good vision. Great puck mover quarterbacking the power play and top point producer with this quarter being no exception.
- #8 Daniel New I*/C+/C+/I*
Did not play as he had some type of surgery to his hand and was sent home.
- #9 Matt Puempel B+/B+/B+/A- Rookie of the Year Award Winner
30 goal scorer was not expected this season and a pleasant surprise as he rose to the occasion in this quarter with all the injuries and call ups. Has a heavy, quick shot that unloads with surprising power from a smaller forward. God-given talent that will one day land him in the big show. Small package but plays big with his heart on his sleeve.
- #10 Buddy Robinson B-/C-/C+/B
Amazing turnaround this quarter compared to last. Is very effective around the net and has discovered his penalty kill talents putting up shorthanded tallies here and there. Will skate with ease which seems difficult for such a big guy. Good potential that might get tapped in the near future.
- #14 Patrick Mullen C+
Expected a little more out of him but a decent blue liner. Good puck mover but at times has trouble reading the play. Hard to judge but plays small and with a little more confidence he can improve and will under the guidance of his coaching staff.
- #15 Cole Schneider B/B+/B+/A-
Smooth skater that reads the ice well and can play no matter who he’s lined up with. Quick passing skills and can put the puck in the back of the net at ease. He can be dangerous with his shot and likes to be close to the net looking for rebounds. A player who has found his groove lately.
- #16 Mark Stone B+/A-/A/A+
Saw time with the big club but recently has returned and shows that same intensity on the ice. Hasn’t missed a beat and continues to impress as he’s just about finished at this level. As long as he remains healthy, he’ll be a valuable piece to the puzzle in the playoffs.
- #18 Shane Prince A-/B-/B-/B-
Fan favorite as I might get some flak but I expected more out of him this quarter as he seems to have reached his ceiling on talent. Hasn’t really improved his game but he does put it all out there, however a disappointing quarter nonetheless despite putting up some decent numbers.
- #19 Jim O’Brien D+/B-/C/I*
Didn’t see any ice time and was sent home as his days with the organization has come to an end.
- #20 Alex Grant A-
Perhaps the best trade this team has ever made. Just his experience alone has led the revamped defense. Good, hard shot from the blue line and makes great passes leading to the forwards. Handles the zone coverage well and overall good play-maker abilities. Look forward to him playing in the playoffs. Hope the organization re-signs him to a two-way deal next season.
- #22 David Dziurzynski C/C+/C-/B-
Has come up big this quarter with producing points and being relied on in certain penalty kills. Is getting noticed and shows he can play with a little effort. Good final quarter and perhaps he’s finally found his rhythm as his game as of late has been his best all season.
- #23 Corey Cowick C+/C/C+/C+ Man of the Year Award Winner
Another fan favorite as he’s a hard grinder, not the most gifted with the puck but seems content with his play. Wish he was more determined as at times he’s a floater on the ice. Needs to get nastier. Off the ice great individual and winner as well as team leader.
- #24 Stephane Da Costa A/A-/B-/B+ Team MVP Award Winner
Just returned from suffering a broken nose as he was at his peak before the injury. Whether or not he returns to his old self is up to him and if he is mentally there once the cage is taken off his helmet in protecting his repaired nose. If so, he can be dangerous with the puck and on the power play in the upcoming playoffs.
- #26 Ben Blood C+/C-/C-/D
Had a few games in the lower league before their season was done. Just hasn’t panned out for the rugged defenseman as he has too many turnovers and not enough talent for the next level. Don’t see him returning next year.
- #27 Mike Hoffman A+/A+/A+/I* 3 Stars of the Game Award Winner
Called up and finished the season up top.
- #29 Tyler Eckford C-/C/D-/I*
Was sent home.
- #30 Andrew Hammond B+/C+/B+/A- 7th Player Award Winner
What a difference a season makes as he has come a long ways, but stuck to the program and his determination proves he has what it takes. A few mental breakdowns but needs to remain focused if this team is going deep in the post season. He has that ability and shows promise. Great quarter for the rookie net-minder.
- #36 Wacey Hamilton C+/C+/C-/B-
Good return this quarter as his game has him playing well and deserves more credit than what’s shown in the past. Great player winning at the dots and gives you 100% effort every game. Scored a beauty a few games ago so he has that talent hidden somewhere.
- #37 Darren Kramer C/I*/D+/C+
Best quarter of the season as his ice time was significantly greater than past. Agitator that chirps away all game long if provoked and gets in your face. Not the greatest fighter but won’t back down from anyone, which you have to like. Good grinder in the corners as well.
- #44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau A+/B/A-/A+ Defensive Forward Award Winner
Just got sent back as his energy was missing but looks to have given the club a lift as this player is a very unique find. Not too many players make it with his size but he’ll end up playing in the majors after the season is finished. Look to have him peek at his best for the playoffs and continue to be the team’s spark plug.
- #52 Nathan Lawson A/A-/I*/I*
Finished as his nagging groin injury finally gave way that ended his season. Won’t be back for the organization.
- #57 Derek Grant I*/B-/C+/C-
Perhaps he needs to get out of big number mode and switch back to his old number as he hasn’t been as good as he once was projected to be. Effort was so so this quarter but lacks finishing. Perhaps I put too much on him as I really expected better results that just weren’t doing it for me. Maybe others see it differently.
Ryan Dzingel, Garrett Thompson, Cody Ceci, Troy Rutkowski, Danny Hobbs, Vincent Dunn, Jakub Culek, Ludwig Karlsson, Scott Greenham and Chris Driedger are all in-competes in not playing the minimum of ten games for an evaluation.
Cover and article photos courtesy of Alicia Strauch.