Building the Herd – Carl Graham

#81 Carl Graham

Position: Defence

Born: Reading, Berkshire

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 27th June

 

The Bison defensive corps got its last member today with the announcement from Doug Sheppard that GB Ball Hockey international Carl Graham would once again don his skates for the Bison.

The 29 year old Graham returns to the Bison for his 3rd season in Bison colours after returning to the Herd last season from a season with the Bracknell Bees, scoring 1 goal and 2 assists with 106 PIMs, a career high and the highest total on the team. Having started with Slough in the BNL in 2001/02, Graham split time between the Junior Jets and the senior side in BNL and EPL before leaving in 2004 to join the Bracknell Hornets. Graham spent two ENL campaigns with the Hive based side, icing 31 times between 2004 and 2006 scoring 13 points. In 2006, Graham left Bracknell to join the Isle of Wight Raiders in the EPL where he played alongside his teammate from last season, Nicky Watt. Graham scored 8 points in 40 games for the Raiders before he took the biggest step of his career. Carl left Ryde to sign with Manchester Phoenix, then of the EIHL. Carl played 2 seasons in the Elite League playing 103 top flight games and scoring 3 points. When the Phoenix dropped to the EPL to start the 2009/10 season, Graham stayed with the team but after two games returned closer to his home county of Berkshire and signed with Bracknell Bees scoring 5 points in 52 games before joining the Bison for 2010/11.

Graham was recently part of the GB Ball Hockey side that competed in the world championships in St. John, Newfoundland in Canada that finished in 6th place. Graham scored 1 assist in 6 games and was GB’s most penalised player with 14 PIMs.

I like writing about Carl Graham; aside from the fact that he’s a nice guy he is easy to write about. Graham’s game doesn’t grab headlines, he doesn’t get a ton of plaudits for it, he just does what he does and that’s it. North Americans would call him a “meat and potatoes” kind of player; he’s the staple of the diet. I’ve said before many a time that you need guys that will do the hard graft and get little glory for it. Carl is one of those players.

Graham is a stay at home defenceman, one look at his stats will tell you that and considering the fact he’s going to be in that 4th/5th defenceman slot we don’t need a lot of point production from him (though usual references about turning into Nik Lidstrom not withstanding) and we need him to be a shut down guy rather than doing Marcel Petran impressions.

Looking through his stats though the PIMs question does arise. Graham sticks up for his team mates which is fair enough and 106 minutes of penalties might lead the team but isn’t staggeringly high but given his lack of fights, that’s a lot of minor penalties he took over the season which it might be useful for Graham to cut down on. That said there’s an argument that being as physical as he is, the PIMs are a side effect of the game he’s asked to play but trips, holds and hooks aren’t part of being physical. That said Carl’s not daft, he’ll know that it’s an area of his game he needs to work on.

Graham’s signing sees the defensive unit complete. We don’t officially know the starting netminder (even though the world and his wife are pretty certain they know) but we have our 6 man defensive unit which seems to have the elements of a good blueline. It’s got quality, physicality, skill and depth on paper at any rate. The two question marks remain over how Vantroba adapts to the British game and how Elliott Dewey steps up to playing senior hockey but we have about 2 months to wait to get answers on that.

There won’t be tons of scoring coming out of this blueline either. None of the Brits have been very high scorers at any level though how Vantroba is used might see him put up Mindy Kieras numbers or he’ll be more in Branislav Kvetan territory.

Whatever happens, that’s the defence to start the campaign. Some will like it, some won’t be we have time to decide what we feel about it now.

Welcome back Scooter, appropriate smashing is accepted.

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