The traditional method of ranking individual player performance is usually some sort of “report card” or “A+” grading system. Not here. You see, we like to keep things simple at TPL. You either made the grade or you didn’t. No grey area. Black and white. This is “Pass/Fail.”
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Following three games as a call-up in 2009-10, Jakub Kindl was a full-time member of the Detroit Red Wings for the first time in 2010-11. His rookie season saw him get into 48 games, and begin to acclimate himself to the pace of NHL hockey. It’s always the Red Wings way to have their rookies sit most of the season in the press box, getting solid minutes in practice and absorbing the culture of the locker room — and that’s precisely what Kindl did, and did so happily. But, by the end of the season, he found himself in a battle for one of the playoff roster spots (more on that later). I’m just one man, but by the end of the season, I truly thought he was one of the six best we had on the blueline.
With Jonathan Ericsson getting hurt in game number one this season, Kindl was forced into active duty right out of the gate, and he struggled to get his footing a little bit. He looked every bit a rookie in some of those games, and with good cause: he was, after all, a rookie. Other rookie mistakes include taking panic penalties, when someone has gotten by you and you’re not sure you can catch them — there really is no other excuse for being ninth on the team in penalty minutes, despite playing in just over half of the team’s games (he led the team in healthy scratches, enjoying the press box 25 times in the regular season, and an additional 11 times in the playoffs). His offense left a bit to be desired, as well. Not that he’s expected to be a Brian Rafalski-type blueliner, racking up points and scoring goals from the point. But, based on his production with the Griffins, it’s fair to assume that the Red Wings were hoping for more than four points from the de-facto 7th defenseman. In fact, in eight games in Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint, he gobbled up 5 points: one more than he did with 40 more games on the big club.
For all his rookie faults, he showed brilliant flashes that proved why he was a first round draft pick. His upside is huge, and he’s coming around. By the end of the season, he looked absolutely poised to take over one of the top six’s spots, and was rumored to be in a battle for the last post-season slot with Ruslan Salei. At the time, I thought Salei deserved to play, but that Kindl should have had Ericsson’s spot on the blueline. With Salei likely playing his way out of an extension in the post-season and Rafalski’s retirement, Kindl looks to be an everyday player next season, and I’m really excited to see what he can do with 70+ games.
Disch: I can’t reasonably give him a pass. Just haven’t seen enough. If the job was to be invisible…to not completely shit the bed….fine, pass. But I remain unconvinced that he’s anything more than just a small upgrade over the Rig.
Petrella: He may have started off a bit rough but by the end of the season, I firmly believed he was one of the more reliable defense-first guys we had on the blueline.
Hollis: For a guy who is supposed to be a lock for the third pairing this coming season, I’m unimpressed. Yes, it was more about getting his feet wet, but a line of 2-2-4 and -6 for a guy who is supposed to be NHL ready is concerning. 36 PIM in 48 games also makes me wonder if the game is still too fast for him. He looked better toward the end of the year, but his D skills still need work and his effort this year just didn’t meet my expectations.
Final TPL Grade
Up Next: Henrik Zetterberg