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Griffins Second Half Report Cards
By Jason Kasiorek

As can be expected of the number one team in the AHL, there were a lot of high grades. The exceptions were among the defense, which was mediocre to good most of the year. There were 4 A's, 10 B's, 3 C's, 3 D's, and 3 Incompletes.

The scale is as follows:
A Greatly Exceeded Expectations - Excellence
B Exceeded Expectations
C Met Expectations - Average
D Below Expectations

Donald MacLean: A+
MacLean was expected to score a lot of points, but no one expected the dream season that he put together. MacLean scored 65 goals between the regular season, the all-star game, a recall to Detroit, and the playoffs. The only damper was the injury he suffered against Manitoba that essentially finished him for the rest of the postseason.

Nate DiCasmirro: A+
DiCas came into camp and played all out until the final whistle against Milwaukee. A demon forechecker with good hands and speed, DiCasmirro impressed all season with his never say die attitude. He enjoyed a career year offensively feeding the AHL's leading goal scorer Donald MacLean. Nate was one of the most valuable players on this Griffins squad and definitely one of the most unsung.

Drew MacIntyre: A
Drew proved his critics wrong time and again last season, forcing his way into the limelight from the spare parts bin with his incredible play in the postseason. He showed a great deal of heart in driving back and forth to play for Toledo in between Grand Rapids games.

Valtteri Filppula: A-
Filppula looked like he hit the wall around game 50, but he recovered his game just in time to be a big force in the playoffs. He may have played his way onto the parent Wings' roster, but if not he will put some big numbers in GR next season.

Jiri Hudler: B+
The Grand Rapids scoring champ tailed off a little at the end of the season then picked it up a notch in the playoffs. Still capable of much more than he gives, Jiri needs to be more of a factor in the games, not just an anonymous scorer.

Bryan Helmer: B+
Helmer really stepped it up a notch the second half, approaching his career offensive numbers while still being a rock on defense. Bryan led the team's defensemen in scoring with 9 points in the playoffs, and was solid.

Tomas Kopecky: B+
A great season led to his first NHL recall, and talks of an NHL job next season, but a poor playoff showing where he couldn't find the net and was not a consistent physical factor led some to question: which is the real Tomas?

Eric Manlow: B
Manlow's offense cooled off in the playoffs, but he was still one of the team's best in the face-off circle. Eric was a steady center, and a consistent point producer during the regular season, but is likely to be moving on.

Kent McDonell: B
Snakebit around the net most of the season, McDonell was one of the team's unsung heroes this season. No one outworked or out-hustled him, and he notched some timely goals in the postseason.

Jimmy Howard: B
Howard put together a great stretch of games after the first of the year, and really showed his potential. He stumbled a bit at the end of the season and then lost his composure in the playoffs. This year was a great learning experience for the rookie netminder, expect him to come back even stronger as the starter in GR next season.

Darryl Bootland: B
Booter ran into a little trouble late in the season where his reputation and his temper got the better of him. He still came within a stones throw of his first 30-goal season and should be in the NHL next season, either in Detroit or another organization.

Matt Ellis: B
Captain Ellis managed to exceed expectations once again with his work ethic and hustle. Ellis has improved in each of his four pro seasons. His next challenge should be the NHL.

Derek Meech: B
Meech was on the edge of losing his regular spot in the lineup the first half, but down the stretch rebounded to come into his own. His offensive game dried up, but his defensive game took on a physical edge. By the end of the playoffs he was the second best defender on the club. Hopefully Derek can build off this next season as he assumes a more prominent role on the back end.

Kyle Quincey: B
Kyle was slow to recover from a concussion suffered around the New Year, but he recovered to play some pretty exciting hockey for a rookie blueliner. He had some ugly numbers in the playoffs, but his normal defensive partner may have been the cause for a large part of that. Quincey played beyond his experience most of the season and should pick it up another notch next season.

Ryan Oulahen: C
Ryan beat out Todd Jackson for a regular role on the club, and the first year center played reasonably well in limited ice time. After seeing glimpses of his potential this season, expect Oulahen to more than double his offensive numbers next year.

Terry Virtue: C
Virtue had some good nights and some bad nights as he tried to win the cup for a third time. He was very good in his own zone early in the playoffs, but, like the rest of the beleaguered blueliners, he tailed off in the later rounds.

Clay Wilson: C
Wilson set the bar pretty high in the first half, scoring at will, but he was weak defensively. He tightened up his defensive game in the second half, but his offense disappeared. He was then solid but unspectacular in the postseason and may be on the Wings radar for a minor league contract next season.

Nick Martens: C
Martens played well in spurts during the second half, but found himself on the outside looking in as the team added Virtue and Lebda to round out the D. He should improve next season, but it likely won't be with Grand Rapids.

Eric Himelfarb: D
Farbsy finally returned from his injury, but could not establish himself as a regular in the lineup. Eric used his speed and hustle, but with no points for the postseason he has his work cut out for him next season - the last on his contract.

Ryan Keller: D
Keller didn't see much ice time, back and forth from Muskegon (UHL) most of the season. He was a regular on the fourth line and played a nice defensive role in the playoffs. Much more was expected on the scoresheet from a 40-goal scorer in juniors.

Brett Lebda: D
An abysmal playoff for one of the organizations top defensive prospects marred what had been a great year for Lebda. Brett did not provide offense and was a serious defensive liability as his team worst -9 will attest. Much more was expected from a player that played half the season in the NHL.

Greg Amadio: Incomplete
Amadio was the victim of the numbers game on defense and became a frequent scratch in the latter part of the season. Greg is a hard worker who is well respected by his teammates and the coaching staff. He may have gotten a start on his next career doing color work on radio broadcasts.

Jakub Kindl: Incomplete
Kindl saw action in 3 games after signing an ATO late in the season. The preview made it very clear that while talented, the young blueliner has a ways to go before turning pro. He was pushed around a lot and made some glaring gaffes with the puck.

Joey MacDonald: Incomplete
Back trouble for the second season in a row pushed MacDonald to the sidelines and may have cost him an opportunity to play in the NHL. He needs to come back strong and have a great camp to avoid being thrown on the scrapheap with MacIntyre, Howard, and Liv pushing for the prime time.