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Grading the Crunch rookies: Preparing for the home stretch

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With sixty games in the books, let’s check in with the younglings.

Scott Thomas Photography

With the Syracuse Crunch 60 games into the season, it’s a good time to check back in to see how the rookies are doing. As banged up as the team has been throughout the year, it’s a bit surprising that they haven’t added any new faces, either through a PTO or a call up from Orlando. That could changed over the next couple of weeks as organizations sign college free agents and the players still in juniors see their seasons come to an end.

That’s all in the future. For now, let’s check in to see how the players who are currently on the team are faring. Again, the stats listed are from the last checkpoint, not season totals.

The first set of grades are here.

The second set of grades are here.

Ross Colton (35 games, 11 goals, 8 assists)

First Grade: B

Second Grade: B

Current Grade: B

Colton has been the steadiest of the rookies so far this season. He hasn’t had too many flashy moments or long lulls in his game. He’s probably never going to pour in a lot of points, but has shown that he can play a strong defensive game and occasionally chip in a goal or two. He has played well along the boards and doesn’t make many mistakes. That leads to a lot of trust placed in him by the coaching staff.

Alex Barre-Boulet (37 games, 17 goals, 13 assists)

First Grade: B+

Second Grade: A

Current Grade: A

He isn’t scoring at the point-a-game pace that he was the last time we checked in, but he is still having a heck of a season. Barre-Boulet is second in rookie scoring with 54 points, second in goals with 28, and leads the entire AHL in power play goals with 15 goals.

Pretty impressive for a guy who wasn’t drafted.

There was a stretch in early February where he recorded only one point in seven games, but he followed that up with nine points in his next six outings. He has six points in his last five games. Both of his goals in that stretch came on the power play. Getting him going at even strength would help the team down the stretch.

Oleg Sosunov (5 games, 0 goals, 0 assists)

First Grade: B

Second Grade: Incomplete

Current Grade: Incomplete

It looks like Sosunov is up with the Crunch for the rest of the season and will get the occasional start. In his last two starts he was solid if somewhat unspectacular. He held his own in the defensive zone, but was a ghost on the offensive side of the ice. That’s not the end of the world for a player still learning the game.

Taylor Raddysh (34 games, 6 goals, 15 assists)

First Grade: C

Second Grade: B+

Current Grade: B

Raddysh has kind of been all over the map this year. Over the last grading period he led all rookies with 15 assists. Five of those helpers came in one game, but he followed up that outing with seven games without a point. Recently, he’s picked up points in five straight games and has gelled on a line with Colton and Andy Andreoff.

He has the ability to score, but isn’t taking a lot of shots. Raddysh scores on 21.1% of his shots, but has only taken 71 in 55 games. He should be taking more with his natural talent.

Boris Katchouk (38 games, 6 goals, 7 assists)

First Grade: C+

Second Grade: B-

Current Grade: B

Will the offense catch up? He scored 101 goals in 199 games in his OHL career, but only has 9 in 59 games in the AHL so far. Yet, he may be one of the most valuable forwards on the roster right now. Three of his goals are of the shorthanded variety, and he’s had a couple of opportunities denied by great saves. When he teams up with Gabriel Dumont, they form one of the most aggressive penalty kill duos in the league.

He reads the play really well and knows when to step up to intercept a pass. The depth at forward has limited some of his playing time on the power play, which hasn’t helped his offensive numbers. He also could look at shooting the puck a little more, much like Raddysh.

Cal Foote (38 games, 5 goals, 11 assists)

First Grade: B

Second Grade: B+

Current Grade: B

He is the only rookie to appear in all 60 games and has seen some time on the top defensive pairing. The offense comes and goes in waves, but that shouldn’t be too big of a concern. He has a good shot and is good enough as a skater to create room for himself in the offensive zone. What continues to be most impressive about his game is his ability to free himself in tight spaces in the defensive zone. It’s usually a little shift of his feet or a quick moved with the stick, but he easily spins his way out of trouble and starts the puck out of the zone.

Otto Somppi (20 games, 0 goals, 1 assist)

First Grade: Incomplete

Second Grade: Incomplete

Current Grade: Incomplete

Somppi is down in Orlando due to the amount of healthy forwards on the Crunch roster right now. He had played okay before being loaned to Solar Bears, but occasionally faded into the background on the ice. In 11 games in the ECHL, he has 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists). Next season could be a big year for him.

Upcoming Game:

The Crunch head to Laval to take on the Rocket. The road offense has returned with 19 goals in their last 5 games (3.8 a game), which is well above their season average of three goals per game on the road. Laval could be a tough road match-up for them, and they shouldn’t take them lightly.

Potential Lines:

Forward:

Alex Volkov - Gabriel Dumont - Cory Conacher

Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens - Alex Barre-Boulet

Andy Andreoff - Ross Colton - Taylor Raddysh

Jonne Tammela - Brady Brassart - Boris Katchouk

Defense:

Cameron Gaunce - Nolan Valleau

Dominik Masin - Cal Foote

Hubert Labrie - Ben Thomas

Goaltender:

Eddie Pasquale