We did it, guys! We made it all the way to the end of the roster. These are the last of our grades. Are we sad? Relieved? Feeling absolutely no emotions because it’s just a hockey article? Live your life. Feel your feelings. Let’s proceed.
German Rubtsov. 14 GP, 6 G, 4 A, 10 P
*deepest sigh into the void* You hate to see anyone get hurt, but Rubtsov sustaining that shoulder injury after just 14 games stings just a little more, knowing how well he had played in those first 14 games. He was another like David Kase who easily worked himself out of the rookie healthy scratch rotation and into a more permanent spot in the lineup. Scott Gordon was trying him in all situations, and he was succeeding in each of those contexts. The scoring was coming along and he looked like an offensive threat at 5-on-5 and on the power play, and he looked stellar playing beside Mikhail Vorobyev on the penalty (a duo that Greg Carey identified as the Russian Bash Brothers). It all seemed to be clicking.
Like Pascal Laberge, this was supposed to be a “show me” season for Rubtsov, after he failed to really put things together in the QMJHL, and while it was unfortunately cut short, it was off to a very good start. He’s set up a very solid foundation for next season.
Steven Swavely. 40 GP, 0 G, 7 A, 7 P
Swavely’s the other sometimes-Phantom, sometimes-Royal that we’re going to be giving a grade for, and with this one we’re going to be echoing some of the same sentiments as we had with Mike Huntebrinker. Swavely did play well enough to earn a contract with the Phantoms to finish out the season with them, and slotted well enough into a depth role when the team was really depleted by injuries, but he didn’t bring a whole lot in the way of flash. There were time when he looked a little out of his depth, and perhaps that’s to be expected, but overall, he was just fine in his role. He just didn’t really move the needle.
Carsen Twarynski. 69 GP, 10 G, 14 A, 24 P
After a very solid training camp with the Flyers, Twarynski was sent down to join the Phantoms, and he came back down to Earth some. As a player who plays with a bit of edge, Twarynski was placed in more of a depth, energy type of role, and he did well enough with it. He figured out the pace of the game at the AHL level and was able to adjust pretty quickly to that. He was also able to figure out scoring at the AHL level, but the real issue there was of consistency—it seemed like he scored in bunches, and while he proved that he can have some offensive upside to go along with the energy he can bring, he just hasn’t yet figured out how to do it on a consistent basis. It’s something to work on, but if nothing else, Twarynski has set a solid foundation for next season.
Phil Varone. 22 GP, 11 G, 17 A, 28 P
It feels a little weird to be grading Varone after he spent most of the season up with the Flyers (it feels like a lifetime ago that he was a Phantom!) but he does meet our threshold for games played, so he’s still owed a grade. And we can be brief—Varone was little short of stellar in his start to the season with the Phantoms. He was the team’s leading scorer by a comfortable margin during his time with the team, and even though he only spent 22 games with the team, he still finished tied with Colin McDonald for ninth in overall scoring. Which is no small feat. And whatever your feelings are about his performance at the NHL level, it’s no surprise why he was given the call-up in the first place. He was the best player on the team through those first 22 games. End of story.
Mike Vecchione. 67 GP, 15 G, 23 A, 38 P
We talked a little about consistency, or lack thereof, earlier in this article, and we’re ready to make something of a complete 180. Consistency was just about the name of the game for Vecchione this season, and it was sorely needed. He finished the season fourth in scoring, and just about matched his total from last season (when he scored 40 points). When the team was slumping, he was one of the players we could more or less count on to still produce. There’s not much more we could have asked of him.
The only thing holding him back from a full A on the season is the somewhat imprecise feeling we had through the season, the sometimes wondering “how’s he getting all of these points when I’m not always noticing him when he’s on the ice?” It’s a game that we could call quietly sound, but also one that feels like it’s missing something, that’s leaving something that we can’t quite put our finger on to be desired.
Mikhail Vorobyev. 42 GP, 7 G, 19 A, 26 P
We’ll be brief on our Big Feeling here—it was a weird season for Vorobyev. He flashed a good bit of skill periodically through the season, and made it clear that he had mastered the AHL level, and that it wasn’t a fluke that he proved himself NHL ready out of training camp. His defensive game remained sound and he even increased his scoring pace from last season, when he scored 29 points in 58 games. But, on the flip side, he also fell into stretches where he looked like he was just sort of coasting out there. He wasn’t as active in the play, he wasn’t negatively effecting things, he was just sort of there. And those two things are hard to reconcile.
He did deal with a couple of injuries during the season, and we don’t know if and how much they were nagging, so we will at least acknowledge the possibility that this was a contributing factor, but the fact remains that we needed to see a little bit more from him. He obviously has the skill to bring that, but we just need to see it, and see it consistently.