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Lehigh Valley Phantoms report cards: Forward veterans

Wrapping up the grades, the time has come.

Heather Barry / SB Nation

We’ve reached the end of the line, folks! We’re finally made it to the end of our series grading the Phantoms players’ seasons. Yesterday we wrapped up the forward prospects, and now all that’s left are the veterans! As was the case with the defensemen, there was quite the overhaul here, and we had a lot of new faces joining the team. How’d they do? Let’s talk about it.

Andy Andreoff

39 GP. 11 G, 7 A, 18 P. 49.30 CF%. Grade: B

Maddie, B-: I’m feeling pretty solidly fine about Andreoff’s time with the Phantoms this season. He did spend some time with the Flyers, so relatively speaking, we didn’t see quite as much of him, but overall I think he was a fine addition. He was able to chip in a nice bit of scoring, I thought he was good on the power play (second in goals scoring there with four), and he definitely had some positive flashes. I think I would have liked to see a little bit more from him, but I certainly didn’t dislike what I saw from him, all in all. I do like his game and I think there’s still a little more that we can see from him, and I’m hoping that happens next season.

Brad, B+: Outside of Frost, I don’t think there was a more impactful forward that wore a Phantoms jersey for an extended amount of time this season. And the two seemed to work very well together, too. Andreoff was throwing those possession-changing hits along the boards — not just climbing the hit charts without meaningful effects — and was able to create dangerous scoring chances through both his own passing, and by creating space for himself to receive passes/deflect shots in close to the net. The Phantoms were a better team with him in the lineup.

Greg Carey

57 GP. 15 G, 15 A, 30 P. 47.30 CF%. Grade: B

Maddie, B: This was, I would say, a bit of a down year for Carey relative to what we usually expect from him, but I still think there was a lot to like about what he brought this season. Team scoring, we know, was down this season, but Carey still remained the team’s leading scorer, and one of their most consistent forwards, to my eyes. I would also argue that he also wasn’t always placed in the best situation to succeed, as his impact on the power play was pretty well diminished as they all but got rid of the pass across the slot to him for the one timer (which has been his bread and butter), so the drop off there is understandable. The underlying numbers here aren’t stellar, so that’s where the grade takes a bit of a hit, but I’m finding it difficult to be too hard on, as I said, one of their more consistent players.

Brad, B-: I truly do not have anything meaningful to add to what Maddie has said above. Agreed on all points.

Kyle Criscuolo

40 GP. 8 G, 16 A, 24 P. 51.93 CF%. Grade: B+

Maddie, A-: I’m a big big fan of Criscuolo’s and I’m honestly still a little sad that the Flyers let him go at the trade deadline. I really liked what he brought to the table—strong forecchecking, good speed, a nice scoring touch even when playing mostly in a depth role, and he power kills! He was, I think, one of their stronger playmakers and did a lot to add some extra jump to whatever line he was put on. That all works out to make him something of an ideal energy player, for me, and I think that went a long way. And I don’t know that I have much more of a breakdown here, there really isn’t much more that I could have asked of him.

Brad, B: I quite liked Criscuolo, and was also sad when he was traded. I was particularly impressed with his ability to draw penalties, with 20 minors drawn in 40 games. All while keeping himself out of the box at the same time, taking just five non-coincidental minor penalties. I’m left wondering what he could’ve done with a bigger role, as the offensive flare was there. The shot impacts at 5-on-5 were great — +3.36 CF% rel, +5.36 SCF% rel, +6.09 HDCF% rel — and he actually produced at a per-game rate that is bested by only Frost and Vorobyev. His playstyle is high-paced and fun, and he seemed to be really effective.

Gerry Fitzgerald

40 GP. 7 G, 4 A, 11 P. 47.92 CF%. Grade: C-

Maddie, C-: Fitzgerald I think was one of the more difficult players to get a read on, as he was up and down from Reading, in and out of the lineup when he was up, so there wasn’t a ton of consistency in presence there. That said, I think there were some positives to take from his game. He brought some good energy and I liked him as a more skilled depth addition, liked his contributions more than some of the other more grind it out types of players. Would I have liked to see a little bit more from him in terms of shot impact? For sure, and I think that would have helped him move the needle more for me. So overall, I think I would rate him as fine, but not much more.

Brad, C: Yeah, this is a tough one for me as well. If my memory serves right, he mostly played on the fourth line, so the seven goals is solid number. His on-ice scoring chance numbers are positive relative to his teammates, and considering that the bottom-six generally struggled to push play in the right direction, it’s interesting that he was able to do so in that role. I don’t think he made all that much of an impact positively or negatively (which isn’t really a bad thing!) so I went with an average grade here.

Kurtis Gabriel

53 GP. 5 G, 4 A, 9 P. 47.72 CF%. Grade: D+

Maddie, D+: This was another tough grade for me. Because, on the one hand, we knew that Gabriel was brought in to be something of a physical presence, as he’s never really been known for putting up huge point totals, and to his credit, he was successful in that role. But, on the other hand, this team was starved for offense for a lot of this season, and there wasn’t really much that he did to help them out of that hole, if you will. Physicality can only do so much when what you really need are goals and for play to be driven positively, and I can’t help but think that there are other players who were either being cycled in and out of the lineup or who had been sent down to Reading that I would rather have had in the lineup in hopes of driving more positive team results. Maybe there’s a need for balance, a place for that type of game, but unfortunately it was secondary to the team’s biggest needs this season. Is that Gabriel’s fault? No, but we still have to grade his tangible contributions and unfortunately those came up a bit short.

Brad, D+: First things first, I want him to be a Phantom for as long as he wants to be here. Having a player so outwardly supportive of marginalized communities is a huge positive for any team, and any fan base. As far as grading his season, look, he’s not the type of player that I tend to back. Really, I’m still not over his hit on Nolan Patrick a year ago, but I digress. The numbers aren’t good, and I agree with Maddie that there were other depth options I would’ve preferred to see in the lineup. But at the same time I can’t help myself but to like him, and it really messes with me when it comes to things like grades. The analytical side of my brain is screaming no while the other side is a fan.

Cal O’Reilly

52 GP. 6 G, 23 A, 29 P. 44.97 CF%. Grade: C

Maddie, C: I have a lot of complicated feelings about this one, to be honest. Maybe it sounds harsh to be giving the guy who was second on the team in scoring a C, but as we discussed when we graded Nic Aube-Kubel, raw points aren’t something I give a ton of weight to. And I think what it comes down to for me, why I’m so critical, is that I’m kind of hard pressed to see one thing that O’Reilly has done really well to help the team. His shot impacts are poor. So too are his transition numbers. I don’t know that I would list him as one of their distinctly strong playmakers (like a Criscuolo or a Mikhail Vorobyev). I do also think he likely benefited quite a bit from spending the whole season stapled to at least one of the team’s volume shooters. Do I think he flat out coasted through this whole season and just leeched off of his linemates? No, that’s certainly a step too far. But I was hoping for more from him this season, and I’m hoping it’s more that we can get next season.

Brad, C: I don’t know what went wrong this season, but O’Reilly went from a point-per-game player in Iowa to being ... not that ... in Lehigh Valley. The point total isn’t bad, especially not on this team, but I didn’t think he was all that noticeable this season. He wasn’t good or bad to my eyes, he was just kind of there, and that’s a letdown from pre-season expectations. But as I’ve said about of few others, the seasons that I view as generally “fine” get the average grade, so here’s one last C to round out our final grouping of grades for the season.

If you want a more detailed look at what happened to the Phantoms this year, check out Maddie’s post from two weeks back. It’s a really good breakdown of what was surely a disappointing season for everyone involved.