All Star Break Report Card: The Defensemen (Part 1)

Keep this train a rollin'

Nick Boynton - The bane of most Hawks fans' existence. Boynton was counted on to play a simple game on the third pairing, as well as doing his share on the penalty kill. However, Boynton can't seem to shake the memory of being a 1st round pick and still thinks he can play that game. Poor pinches, horrific decision making and some defending that is set to Benny Hill music has earned howls of derision from the UC faithful. Boynton still thinks he can be a rushing defenseman which he clearly can't, and he hasn't been physical or positioned correctly all year. Thankfully was finally resigned to the pressbox in favor of Nick Leddy and Jordan Hendry, which he had the audactiy to complain about. A return to the lineup against Minnesota so another woeful performance, and frankly it's high time we were done with this clown car.

Grade: D-

Brian CampbellThe complete opposite of the spectrum. Niklas Hjalmarsson played like an abused puppy without him for the first month of the year, and the biggest indication of Campbell's excellence has been Hammer's -10 +/- before he returned and now his and his current +6. That's a hell of a jump. 51 Phantom has been assured in his own end with a calm presence and starting the play the other way. There have been several games where he's been the best player on the ice. He's also demonstrated some solid leadership as the only Hawks who gets it, calling out his teammates and backing it up with his play. He'll never win over everyone with the paycheck he's carrying, but he's been worth every penny this year.

Grade: A-

Jassen Cullimore - A pleasant surprise, as he's been pretty much what we asked Nick Boynton to be. Limited as he is, Cullimore didn't try and stray from just being meatbag and providing a decent amount of physicality as his aged wheels would allow. Had some yips as any #6 d-man would, but certainly didn't let anybody down. Strange he was the one chosen to go down instead of Boynton. Was leaned on more heavily than he should have been.

Grade: B- (considering the scale)

Niklas Hjalmarsson - This would vary wildy from the first part of the year where he was lost without Campbell. Improved greatly upon Soupy's return but still has a long way to go. Hammer is making mistakes you would associate with a rookie, firing clearances off the boards blindly instead of taking an extra stride or two to open a lane for a breakout pass. He did this masterfully last year, so maybe there's an injury or just a sophomore jinx, but Hammer has caused his fair share of panic in his end with just some rushed and panicky plays. Hasn't been hitting as much as he can either, but he's at least attained a platform of competence from hsi first month buffoonery.

Grade: C+/B-

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