Jump to content

SabresFan220

Members
  • Content Count

    513
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

8,620 Excellent

About SabresFan220

  • Rank
    Range Member
  • Birthday 01/21/1986

Converted

  • How long have you been a Buffalo fan?
    All of my life

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports It was fine. Total Season Stats: 38 GP | 5 G | 5 A | 10 PTS Age: 25 Contract Status: UFA Buffalo forward Curtis Lazar played on a $700,000 contract for the 2019-20 season. He and Victor Olofsson hold the distinguished honor of being the lowest paid players on the team. Using that as a metric, and comparing the two, Lazar had a terrible season. Olofsson spent much of his playing time in the conversation for the Calder as rookie of the year. Lazar, on the other hand, has failed to spend more than a couple of seasons in the NHL full time. Thankfully, we won’t hold Lazar to the same standard we might hold Olofsson. For a player that has spent as much time in the AHL as he has in the NHL over his six seasons, Lazar had a fine season. Not like dog-in-a-flaming-house fine, but actually fine. In 38 games, he averaged 11:51 a night - fourth minutes, essentially. He was on the worst line of one of the worst teams in the league, which tracks with the rest of his career. He managed five goals and five assists - again, fine. Defensively, Lazar didn’t have the greatest year. For a player that was trusted to start in the defensive zone over 58% of the time, the team did not play well in those instances. The Sabres had an even strength save percentage of only .880, which is below that of both goaltenders. It’s not as though the team did a great job in the defensive zone as a whole, so… Here’s what he did well: for a fourth line player, he still managed to generate nearly one shot on goal per game (33 shots in 38 games.) When he did shoot, he did so with an elite accuracy; he was top-five on the team in shooting percentage with 15.2 percent. That includes a limited data point from Dominick Kahun. Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Olofsson were the only other Sabres ahead of Lazar. Because of a lack of overall team success in the last decade, we have gotten pretty good at managing expectations. It’s difficult to say what the actual expectations would be for a forward that played a third of his games in Rochester this year, but generating shots and burying them with a fairly high frequency is probably a good marker. He gets a good grade for that, but a poor one for defense, and so, we have an average mark for a player that had an average expectation. He was fine, and this C reflects that. Season Grade: C View the full article
  2. Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images As the NHL remains on pause, how to get your hockey fix As the National Hockey League, the Buffalo Sabres and pretty much every hockey league - and sports league - in North America remain on pause, there are still some chances to get your hockey fix over the coming week. From a rousing four games of #SabresClassics on MSG, to catching a replay of this year’s Winter Classic and All-Star Games, to tuning into historic Stanley Cup games and more - here are the games that are being televised this week on networks including NBC, NBCSN, MSG and NHL Network. Monday, April 6 10 a.m., NHL Network / 2020 Winter Classic (Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars) 3 p.m. - 1 a.m., NHL Network / Various games from the 2019-20 NHL season. 5 p.m., NBCSN / 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Game 6 (Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues) 8 p.m., MSG / 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 1 (Sabres beat Flyers 3-2 in double overtime thanks to Daniel Briere; Brian Campbell also lays a monstrous hit) Tuesday, April 7 8 a.m., NHL Network / 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7 (Calgary Flames vs. Tampa Bay Lightning) 10 a.m., NHL Network / 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7 (Edmonton Oilers vs. Carolina Hurricanes) 12 p.m., NHL Network / 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5 (Ottawa Senators vs. Anaheim Ducks) 4 p.m., NHL Network / 2020 Beanpot Tournament, Championship Game (Northeastern vs. BU) 5:30 p.m., NBCSN / 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Game 7 (Carolina Hurricanes vs. Washington Capitals) 8 p.m., MSG / 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 2 (Sabres win 8-2; J.P. Dumont and Jason Pominville each record a hat trick) 8 p.m., NHL Network / 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Competition & Game Wednesday, April 8 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., NHL Network / Various 2020 NHL Playoff Games 5 p.m., NBCSN / 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Game 7 (Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh) 7 p.m., NHL Network / 2020 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7 (St. Louis vs. Boston) 8 p.m., MSG / 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 5 (Sabres win 3-0 at home) Thursday, April 9 8 a.m., NHL Network / Vintage NHL Games, April 9, 1993 (Pittsburgh vs. New York) 10 a.m., NHL Network / 2009 Stanley Cup Final, Game 7 (Pittsburgh vs. Detroit) 12 p.m. - 12 a.m., NHL Network / Various Historic NHL Games 6 p.m., NBCSN / 2014 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5 (Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings) 8 p.m., MSG / 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 6 (Sabres win 7-1 to eliminate the Flyers) Friday, April 10 10 a.m. - 12 a.m., NHL Network / Various Historic NHL Games including 4 p.m, Dominik Hasek makes 70 saves & Dave Hannon scores the GWG in a 4-OT game, 1994 8 p.m., MSG / “Beyond Blue and Gold” one-hour compilation Saturday, April 11 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., NHL Network / Various Playoff Games from 2019 3 p.m., NBC / 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6 (Detroit Red Wings beat Pittsburgh Penguins) 4:30 p.m., NBC / 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7 (Pittsburgh Penguins beat Detroit Red Wings) Sunday, April 12 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., NHL Network / Various Playoff Games from 2019 1 p.m., NBC / 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6 (Chicago Blackhawks beat Philadelphia Flyers) 2:30 p.m., NBC / 2020 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7 (St. Louis Blues beat Boston Bruins) View the full article
  3. Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images Asplund split season between Buffalo & Rochester Total Season Stats: 29 GP | 1 G | 2 A | 3 PTS (NHL) / 33 GP | 3 G | 16 A | 19 PTS (AHL) Age: 22 Contract Status: Signed on ELC through 2020-21 season ($845,000) It feels like Buffalo Sabres prospect Rasmus Asplund is on the cusp of making it to the National Hockey League on a full-time basis. He’s so close, but just couldn’t quite get there this season. Asplund was recalled several times to the NHL over the course of the season and bounced back and forth between Buffalo & Rochester, and should compete for a full-time roster spot this fall. The 22-year-old started off the season with the AHL’s Amerks. He potted two assists in the season opener, but then went pointless for the next four games. He was hot and cold a bit in the beginning, with a three-game point streak, a two-point game in early November and a few short stints where he was held pointless. In mid-November, Asplund was called up to the NHL for the first time. He made his NHL debut on November 16 in a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators and was impressive: What was not to like about Rasmus Asplund’s NHL debut tonight? There was no questioning his effort, he was playing with speed, wasn’t afraid to get physical, and he looked so smooth with the puck in both ends of the ice. #Sabres — Brayton J. Wilson (@BJWilsonWGR) November 17, 2019 So impressive, in fact, that he wouldn’t play in Rochester again for a whole two months. Instead, Asplund found himself comfortably on the NHL roster. He potted his first assist in a November 27 game against Calgary, then scored his first NHL goal on December 2 against New Jersey. Overall, he put up three points in 29 games and recorded 36 shots on goal while averaging 10:50 per game. Rasmus Asplund trying to make his presence felt immediately. #sabres50 pic.twitter.com/owIoByqlLw — Buffalo Hockey moments (@SabresPlays) November 17, 2019 Asplund was re-assigned to the AHL on January 18, but spent only about two weeks with the Amerks before once again being called up by Buffalo. This time, it was a short stint - just a one-game trip - before he spent the remainder of the season in Rochester. Asplund averaged 0.57 points per game in the AHL, higher than his average of 0.55 points per game the previous season with Rochester. And, of course, he had the lengthy stint in Buffalo, which gave him a chance to showcase his skills at the highest level - and clearly, Sabres brass thought he did well, since they kept him in the NHL for so long. So what happens in the fall for Asplund? He’s still on his entry-level contract, and it’s certainly possible that he makes a push for a full-time NHL roster spot from the beginning of the season. As of this writing, the Sabres have just four forwards secured for next season: Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Kyle Okposo and Marcus Johansson. Wayne Simmonds, Michael Frolik, Jimmy Vesey, Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson are all set to become unrestricted free agents. Sam Reinhart, Dominik Kahun, Victor Olofsson and Curtis Lazar will all be restricted free agents. You have to think that much of the decision surrounding where Asplund starts off the regular season rests on how he performs at training camp and in the preseason, as well as how the Sabres are able to re-sign and sign other forwards in the offseason. Season Grade: B+ View the full article
  4. Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images The series concludes with netminders Hello again, it’s been a fun week as we conclude the top 10 series with easily the most unpredictable position - the goaltenders. The Sabres went from a perennial top-end backstop, to a second round pick who seemed the next in line, to a serious revolving door in net that amounted to 18 different goalies receiving playing time in the decade. Obviously, these rankings are a little different than the previous ones this week, as weighing the goaltending statistics required a different method. For this, I referenced Evolving Wild’s goals above replacement as well as my own algorithm for the position. The minimum amount of games played to be considered was set at 10, with all due respect to Jonas Johansson, Jason Kasdorf, Connor Knapp, Nathan Lieuwen, Drew MacIntyre, Andrey Makarov, and Adam Wilcox, leaving a total of 11. I sorted the goalies into an “Overall” rank only, and included each of the top 10’s best seasons to reminisce upon. This is slightly different than what I did with the centers, left wingers, right wingers, and defensemen. As a special bonus, I included a graphic for the complete ranking of the qualifying skaters and goaltenders, separately, with each of their seasons played highlighted. I hope you enjoyed the series and the trip down memory lane. Without further ado, onto the goaltenders: 10 - Chad Johnson Best season - 2015-2016 Johnson had such a good showing in his first season with the Sabres, he was brought back after a one year hiatus from the club. That decision did not pay off for the team, as his save percentage dipped from 92.06% to 89.27%. Even worse, he let in a decade-worst 24.88 goals above expected in his second stint. 9 - Robin Lehner Best season - 2015-2016 Upon leaving Buffalo, Lehner was the first to admit his time with the Sabres did not go as expected. He immediately entered the NHL’s substance abuse program, and has thankfully since seemed to have fought off the demons. His performance on the ice dipped each year he stayed with the club, allowing a total of 16.66 goals above expected in his final season. 8 - Patrick Lalime Best season - 2009-2010 Brought in more for his personality and locker room presence than for his play, Lalime did not see the crease much. When he did, however, he fared pretty well, posting statistics nearly in-line with league averages. 7 - Carter Hutton Best season - 2018-2019 Hutton is a tough goalie to figure out. He came to the club after posting top tier numbers as a backup. Expanding his playing time has not amounted to any sort of payoff, however, as he’s let in over 13 goals above expected per season. There are stretches, like the undefeated streak at the beginning of this past season, where he leaves you scratching your head wondering why he cannot be more consistent. 6 - Linus Ullmark Best season - 2019-2020 It’s not exactly that Ullmark has stole the starter’s role from Hutton, rather, the team was left with no option but to hand it to him. With much better rebound control, Ullmark has posted fairly average stats in his NHL time. It is possible there’s another leap of progression left in him, as goalies can unpredictably go on runs, but the Sabres should probably target another quality option to at least join him as a tandem. 5 - Anders Lindback Best season - 2014-2015 An afterthought of an acquisition, Lindback notoriously outperformed expectation during a time when the team was set up to fail. Although he barely qualified at 16 games, his 92.58% save percentage was something that would be interesting to see if he could sustain if given the opportunity to stay. 4 - Jhonas Enroth Best season - 2011-2012 It’s hard to say Enroth didn’t get a fair shake, as he played 118 games for the Sabres, but it never seemed like he was fully handed the reins as a starter. The season that seemed to be his shot to claim the job, he was shipped to Dallas with a rebuild in mind. When all was said and done, Enroth’s average save percentage was over 91% with the club. 3 - Anders Nilsson Best season - 2016-2017 Nilsson was brought in as Lehner’s backup for one season and was a reclamation project, of sorts. Whatever happened that season just clicked, and, if it wasn’t for the Sabres trying to justify giving up a first round pick for Lehner, Nilsson probably should’ve received more starts. In his 26 games played, he saved a whopping 10.84 goals above expected. 2 - Michal Neuvirth Best season - 2014-2015 Neuvirth’s acquisition is almost remembered more for it’s comical nature, where the Sabres acquired Jaroslav Halak in the Ryan Miller trade, dressed him as a backup for a game, and then flipped him for Neuvirth. His time manning the crease for the Sabres was seriously good, though, posting a save percentage over 92%. 1 - Ryan Miller Best season - 2009-2010 First overall in net comes as no surprise, as Miller is the team’s all-time wins leader. With a tenure spanning portions of two decades, his performance reached it’s peak by the time 2010 rolled around. In the 2009-2010 season, Miller’s 25.08 goals saved above expected not only won him the Vezina Trophy, but also fourth in Hart Trophy voting as well. Not mentioned: Matt Hackett (11th overall) Other position rankings: Centers Left Wingers Right Wingers Defensemen If the poll below is not showing up on your newsreader, please click here to go vote. View the full article
  5. Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images The series concludes with netminders Hello again, it’s been a fun week as we conclude the top 10 series with easily the most unpredictable position - the goaltenders. The Sabres went from a perennial top-end backstop, to a second round pick who seemed the next in line, to a serious revolving door in net that amounted to 18 different goalies receiving playing time in the decade. Obviously, these rankings are a little different than the previous ones this week, as weighing the goaltending statistics required a different method. For this, I referenced Evolving Wild’s goals above replacement as well as my own algorithm for the position. The minimum amount of games played to be considered was set at 10, with all due respect to Jonas Johansson, Jason Kasdorf, Connor Knapp, Nathan Lieuwen, Drew MacIntyre, Andrey Makarov, and Adam Wilcox, leaving a total of 11. I sorted the goalies into an “Overall” rank only, and included each of the top 10’s best seasons to reminisce upon. This is slightly different than what I did with the centers, left wingers, right wingers, and defensemen. As a special bonus, I included a graphic for the complete ranking of the qualifying skaters and goaltenders, separately, with each of their seasons played highlighted. I hope you enjoyed the series and the trip down memory lane. Without further ado, onto the goaltenders: 10 - Chad Johnson Best season - 2015-2016 Johnson had such a good showing in his first season with the Sabres, he was brought back after a one year hiatus from the club. That decision did not pay off for the team, as his save percentage dipped from 92.06% to 89.27%. Even worse, he let in a decade-worst 24.88 goals above expected in his second stint. 9 - Robin Lehner Best season - 2015-2016 Upon leaving Buffalo, Lehner was the first to admit his time with the Sabres did not go as expected. He immediately entered the NHL’s substance abuse program, and has thankfully since seemed to have fought off the demons. His performance on the ice dipped each year he stayed with the club, allowing a total of 16.66 goals above expected in his final season. 8 - Patrick Lalime Best season - 2009-2010 Brought in more for his personality and locker room presence than for his play, Lalime did not see the crease much. When he did, however, he fared pretty well, posting statistics nearly in-line with league averages. 7 - Carter Hutton Best season - 2018-2019 Hutton is a tough goalie to figure out. He came to the club after posting top tier numbers as a backup. Expanding his playing time has not amounted to any sort of payoff, however, as he’s let in over 13 goals above expected per season. There are stretches, like the undefeated streak at the beginning of this past season, where he leaves you scratching your head wondering why he cannot be more consistent. 6 - Linus Ullmark Best season - 2019-2020 It’s not exactly that Ullmark has stole the starter’s role from Hutton, rather, the team was left with no option but to hand it to him. With much better rebound control, Ullmark has posted fairly average stats in his NHL time. It is possible there’s another leap of progression left in him, as goalies can unpredictably go on runs, but the Sabres should probably target another quality option to at least join him as a tandem. 5 - Anders Lindback Best season - 2014-2015 An afterthought of an acquisition, Lindback notoriously outperformed expectation during a time when the team was set up to fail. Although he barely qualified at 16 games, his 92.58% save percentage was something that would be interesting to see if he could sustain if given the opportunity to stay. 4 - Jhonas Enroth Best season - 2011-2012 It’s hard to say Enroth didn’t get a fair shake, as he played 118 games for the Sabres, but it never seemed like he was fully handed the reins as a starter. The season that seemed to be his shot to claim the job, he was shipped to Dallas with a rebuild in mind. When all was said and done, Enroth’s average save percentage was over 91% with the club. 3 - Anders Nilsson Best season - 2016-2017 Nilsson was brought in as Lehner’s backup for one season and was a reclamation project, of sorts. Whatever happened that season just clicked, and, if it wasn’t for the Sabres trying to justify giving up a first round pick for Lehner, Nilsson probably should’ve received more starts. In his 26 games played, he saved a whopping 10.84 goals above expected. 2 - Michal Neuvirth Best season - 2014-2015 Neuvirth’s acquisition is almost remembered more for it’s comical nature, where the Sabres acquired Jaroslav Halak in the Ryan Miller trade, dressed him as a backup for a game, and then flipped him for Neuvirth. His time manning the crease for the Sabres was seriously good, though, posting a save percentage over 92%. 1 - Ryan Miller Best season - 2009-2010 First overall in net comes as no surprise, as Miller is the team’s all-time wins leader. With a tenure spanning portions of two decades, his performance reached it’s peak by the time 2010 rolled around. In the 2009-2010 season, Miller’s 25.08 goals saved above expected not only won him the Vezina Trophy, but also fourth in Hart Trophy voting as well. Not mentioned: Matt Hackett (11th overall) View the full article
  6. Photo by Joe Hrycych/NHLI via Getty Images A return to the team is in question with the pending unrestricted free agent Total Season Stats: 69 GP | 12 G | 7 A | 19 PTS Age: 26 Contract Status: UFA In danger of making this sound like too much like a eulogy, it’s been quite an unusual ride for Zemgus Girgensons over the first seven seasons of his career. He went from first-round pick, to promising rookie, to first line center and all-star, before completely flat lining and redefining his role. Now settled in as a shutdown winger, Girgensons and his linemates enjoyed plenty of success in 2019-2020. The “G” of the Sabres’ “LOG” line, the Latvian locomotive joined Johan Larsson and Kyle Okposo for the second straight season at even-strength to form a line that dominates possession by controlling the puck for long stretches of time in the offensive zone. The question is, how much of that successful style of play was driven by Girgensons, as opposed to his linemates? On Wednesday, our Alexander Nilsson touched on Larsson’s isolated impacts, and how valuable they were, here. The story with Girgensons is a little different. Unlike his linemates, offense just isn’t created by Girgensons. This counteracts his strong defensive play, and makes him a very dull player on the ice. He did manage to score 12 goals, which is his most since the all-star season, but he also received the sixth most ice time of all forwards. That’s not quite the kind of production you’d like from a top-six forward. The elephant in the room is Girgensons’ contract situation. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, meaning both he and the Sabres would have to show interest in getting a deal done for him to return to the only club he’s known. It’s tough to break up a line that was the Sabres’ second best this past season, but if one piece of that line is replaceable, it’s probably him. In fact, over the course of his career and especially lately, Girgensons has defined “replaceable”. A 0.06 goals above replacement for his career shows that the Sabres can afford to move on from the left winger in search of an improvement, if they so choose. Ridding any pieces from a constant stretch of bottom-dwelling seasons is probably smart as it is. Girgensons has been the longest tenured player in the organization, and along with Rasmus Ristolainen, has been a name synonymous with losing. However, at a cheap price, the defensive forward can still provide key minutes in a checking role. It will be interesting to see which side of the fence he falls on when the offseason officially kicks in. Season Grade: B- View the full article
  7. Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images It’s time to evaluate the blueline in a special edition of the series Since I’ve been manning the point in this exercise, there’s no better time to spice things up a little than with the defense. For the series so far, the structure has been a countdown of each position from ten to one and then listing the rest not mentioned. Since there’s 30 defensemen that qualified, I’ll not only do the normal countdown, I’ll also do a “Next 10” with full rankings listed. If you’re not familiar yet with what has occurred, all week I’ve been breaking down the top players of the last decade by position using analysis from Evolving Wild’s RAPM and GAR models, as well as my own models. We started with the centers, followed by the left wingers and right wingers. For the sake of organizing and generalizing these stats, I created three categories to rank, “Offense”, “Defense”, and “Overall”. As I’ve previously noted, these rankings are based off a per-60 rate basis, allowing us to compare players with sizable differences in total games played and ice time throughout the decade. I didn’t want to reward or discredit players for their length of time in Buffalo, since that is mostly out of their control. Instead, I felt it was more appropriate to see which player played the best in his time given. Consistency is the key here, as this is not a ranking of peak seasons. I did, however, list the best season for the top 10 for the sake of nostalgia. With that said, here are the defensemen: The Next 10 20 - Craig Rivet Overall - 59th Offense - 65th Defense - 33rd 19 - Brandon Montour Overall - 58th Offense - 49th Defense - T-54th 18 - Nikita Zadorov Overall - 56th Offense - T-32nd Defense - 72nd 17 - Marco Scandella Overall - 53rd Offense - 34th Defense - 70th 16 - Henrik Tallinder Overall - 52nd Offense - 36th Defense - 51st 15 - Colin Miller Overall - 51st Offense - 61st Defense - T-40th 14 - Tyler Myers Overall - 44th Offense - T-32nd Defense - T-54th 13 - Zach Bogosian Overall - 43rd Offense - 21st Defense - 66th 12 - Jordan Leopold Overall - 41st Offense - 27th Defense - 61st 11 - Jake McCabe Overall - 37th Offense - 52nd Defense - 29th 10 - Nathan Beaulieu Overall - 36th Offense - 19th Defense - 67th Best season - 2018-2019 Beaulieu went through a couple seasons where he was battling to be in the lineup, but, when he was, he fared pretty well. Due to this, his trade request in he second season was somewhat warranted, since the names ahead of him in the lineup are mostly names behind him on this list. 9 - Cody Franson Overall - 30th Offense - 39th Defense - 14th Best season - 2016-2017 Not the fleetest of foot, Franson looked suspect at times on the ice upon first glance. He always measured well in the analytics community, however, and his 2016-2017 season was considerably better than his previous. Positioning and composure under pressure were qualities that helped his defensive game, and specifically helped his expected goals against. 8 - Casey Nelson Overall - 28th Offense - 62nd Defense - 6th Best season - 2018-2019 Brought in as a college free agent signing with hopes of becoming a powerplay quarterback, Nelson bounced between the AHL and NHL refining his game in a completely different way. He measured as the third best defensive defenseman of the decade, which makes you wonder if he deserved a shot to play in the NHL again this past season. 7 - Mark Pysyk Overall - 26th Offense - 41st Defense - 12th Best season - 2015-2016 Point-blank, Pysyk’s 2015-2016 season made him an analytics darling. At even strength, his expected goals percentage and corsi percentage were remarkable, suggesting that he was poised to become a pivotal part of a suspect blueline. Instead, Tim Murray traded him for Dmitry Kulikov, turning the tide significantly. 6 - Toni Lydman Overall - 24th Offense - 31st Defense - 16th Best season - 2009-2010 Lydman’s tenure only carried one season into the 2010s, but he is remembered as one of the most consistent defensemen in Sabres history. His play waned a bit after time, as did his team’s, but he was still able to still successfully limit goals against despite giving up better quality opportunities. 5 - Andrej Sekera Overall - 19th Offense - 20th Defense - 15th Best season - 2011-2012 Seemingly Brian Campbell’s successor, Sekera had big shoes to fill. He put up a couple really strong seasons in the decade, although he molded himself into a mobile defensive defenseman as opposed to Campbell’s powerplay quarterback role. Shots attempts and shot quality were hard to come by with Sekera, which vaulted him to fifth on this list. 4 - Steve Montador Overall - 15th Offense - 21st Defense - 5th Best season - 2010-2011 Montador was a fan-favorite, and put up his best offensive years in Buffalo. His corsi-for numbers at even strength were stellar, and he did an even better job at limiting chances against before moving on to Chicago. Unfortunately, Montador suffered from CTE and post-concussion depression after his time in the Windy City, and tragically passed in 2015. 3 - Chris Butler Overall - 13th Offense - 11th Defense - T-40th Best season - 2009-2010 If you were waiting for a surprise in the rankings, well, you’ve probably found it here. Chris Butler put up two strong seasons to begin the decade, despite playing only 59 and 49 games, respectively. 2010-2011 was the stronger of his two seasons at even strength, but it was his special teams play that boosted him up this list. Butler was remarkably efficient in 2009-2010 on the powerplay, and nearly as effective on the penalty kill when given the opportunity. 2 - Christian Ehrhoff Overall - 11th Offense - 10th Defense - 37th Best season - 2012-2013 Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff were acquired in the same offseason, giving the Sabres two shiny new big-named defensemen in the lineup. Only one, however, prospered in Buffalo. Ehrhoff was very strong all-around, providing offense that turned out to be the best from anybody on the back-end in the decade. Heck, he even teamed with Alexander Sulzer and turned that into a formidable first pair. His ranking should come as no surprise, taking a backseat to the only one blueliner he possibly could. 1 - Rasmus Dahlin Overall - 6th Offense - 12th Defense - 2nd Best season - 2018-2019 Where to begin? Dahlin burst onto the scene as advertised, playing with incredible poise as an 18 year-old. He started a little slow in his sophomore season, but by the new year was back to form. Dahlin’s defensive numbers were second-best among all skaters, and his offensive numbers were very strong, specifically on the powerplay. It will be interesting to see if the even strength production takes off in the coming years, as well as how he’ll fare if he ever receives time on the penalty kill. Not mentioned: Shaone Morrisonn (60th overall) Josh Gorges (63rd) Mike Weber (66th) Rasmus Ristolainen (67th) Henri Jokiharju (69th) Justin Falk (71st) Andrej Meszaros (73rd) Jamie McBain (74th) Robyn Regehr (76th) Andre Benoit (80th) Previous position rankings: Centers Left Wingers Right Wingers View the full article
  8. Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images It’s time to evaluate the blueline in a special edition of the series Since I’ve been manning the point in this exercise, there’s no better time to spice things up a little than with the defense. For the series so far, the structure has been a countdown of each position from ten to one and then listing the rest not mentioned. Since there’s 30 defensemen that qualified, I’ll not only do the normal countdown, I’ll also do a “Next 10” with full rankings listed. If you’re not familiar yet with what has occurred, all week I’ve been breaking down the top players of the last decade by position using analysis from Evolving Wild’s RAPM and GAR models, as well as my own models. We started with the centers, followed by the left wingers and right wingers. For the sake of organizing and generalizing these stats, I created three categories to rank, “Offense”, “Defense”, and “Overall”. As I’ve previously noted, these rankings are based off a per-60 rate basis, allowing us to compare players with sizable differences in total games played and ice time throughout the decade. I didn’t want to reward or discredit players for their length of time in Buffalo, since that is mostly out of their control. Instead, I felt it was more appropriate to see which player played the best in his time given. Consistency is the key here, as this is not a ranking of peak seasons. I did, however, list the best season for the top 10 for the sake of nostalgia. With that said, here are the defensemen: The Next 10 20 - Craig Rivet Overall - 59th Offense - 65th Defense - 33rd 19 - Brandon Montour Overall - 58th Offense - 49th Defense - T-54th 18 - Nikita Zadorov Overall - 56th Offense - T-32nd Defense - 72nd 17 - Marco Scandella Overall - 53rd Offense - 34th Defense - 70th 16 - Henrik Tallinder Overall - 52nd Offense - 36th Defense - 51st 15 - Colin Miller Overall - 51st Offense - 61st Defense - T-40th 14 - Tyler Myers Overall - 44th Offense - T-32nd Defense - T-54th 13 - Zach Bogosian Overall - 43rd Offense - 21st Defense - 66th 12 - Jordan Leopold Overall - 41st Offense - 27th Defense - 61st 11 - Jake McCabe Overall - 37th Offense - 52nd Defense - 29th 10 - Nathan Beaulieu Overall - 36th Offense - 19th Defense - 67th Best season - 2018-2019 Beaulieu went through a couple seasons where he was battling to be in the lineup, but, when he was, he fared pretty well. Due to this, his trade request in he second season was somewhat warranted, since the names ahead of him in the lineup are mostly names behind him on this list. 9 - Cody Franson Overall - 30th Offense - 39th Defense - 14th Best season - 2016-2017 Not the fleetest of foot, Franson looked suspect at times on the ice upon first glance. He always measured well in the analytics community, however, and his 2016-2017 season was considerably better than his previous. Positioning and composure under pressure were qualities that helped his defensive game, and specifically helped his expected goals against. 8 - Casey Nelson Overall - 28th Offense - 62nd Defense - 6th Best season - 2018-2019 Brought in as a college free agent signing with hopes of becoming a powerplay quarterback, Nelson bounced between the AHL and NHL refining his game in a completely different way. He measured as the third best defensive defenseman of the decade, which makes you wonder if he deserved a shot to play in the NHL again this past season. 7 - Mark Pysyk Overall - 26th Offense - 41st Defense - 12th Best season - 2015-2016 Point-blank, Pysyk’s 2015-2016 season made him an analytics darling. At even strength, his expected goals percentage and corsi percentage were remarkable, suggesting that he was poised to become a pivotal part of a suspect blueline. Instead, Tim Murray traded him for Dmitry Kulikov, turning the tide significantly. 6 - Toni Lydman Overall - 24th Offense - 31st Defense - 16th Best season - 2009-2010 Lydman’s tenure only carried one season into the 2010s, but he is remembered as one of the most consistent defensemen in Sabres history. His play waned a bit after time, as did his team’s, but he was still able to still successfully limit goals against despite giving up better quality opportunities. 5 - Andrej Sekera Overall - 19th Offense - 20th Defense - 15th Best season - 2011-2012 Seemingly Brian Campbell’s successor, Sekera had big shoes to fill. He put up a couple really strong seasons in the decade, although he molded himself into a mobile defensive defenseman as opposed to Campbell’s powerplay quarterback role. Shots attempts and shot quality were hard to come by with Sekera, which vaulted him to fifth on this list. 4 - Steve Montador Overall - 15th Offense - 21st Defense - 5th Best season - 2010-2011 Montador was a fan-favorite, and put up his best offensive years in Buffalo. His corsi-for numbers at even strength were stellar, and he did an even better job at limiting chances against before moving on to Chicago. Unfortunately, Montador suffered from CTE and post-concussion depression after his time in the Windy City, and tragically passed in 2015. 3 - Chris Butler Overall - 13th Offense - 11th Defense - T-40th Best season - 2009-2010 If you were waiting for a surprise in the rankings, well, you’ve probably found it here. Chris Butler put up two strong seasons to begin the decade, despite playing only 59 and 49 games, respectively. 2010-2011 was the stronger of his two seasons at even strength, but it was his special teams play that boosted him up this list. Butler was remarkably efficient in 2009-2010 on the powerplay, and nearly as effective on the penalty kill when given the opportunity. 2 - Christian Ehrhoff Overall - 11th Offense - 10th Defense - 37th Best season - 2012-2013 Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff were acquired in the same offseason, giving the Sabres two shiny new big-named defensemen in the lineup. Only one, however, prospered in Buffalo. Ehrhoff was very strong all-around, providing offense that turned out to be the best from anybody on the back-end in the decade. Heck, he even teamed with Alexander Sulzer and turned that into a formidable first pair. His ranking should come as no surprise, taking a backseat to the only one blueliner he possibly could. 1 - Rasmus Dahlin Overall - 6th Offense - 12th Defense - 2nd Best season - 2018-2019 Where to begin? Dahlin burst onto the scene as advertised, playing with incredible poise as an 18 year-old. He started a little slow in his sophomore season, but by the new year was back to form. Dahlin’s defensive numbers were second-best among all skaters, and his offensive numbers were very strong, specifically on the powerplay. It will be interesting to see if the even strength production takes off in the coming years, as well as how he’ll fare if he ever receives time on the penalty kill. Not mentioned: Shaone Morrisonn (60th overall) Josh Gorges (63rd) Mike Weber (66th) Rasmus Ristolainen (67th) Henri Jokiharju (69th) Justin Falk (71st) Andrej Meszaros (73rd) Jamie McBain (74th) Robyn Regehr (76th) Andre Benoit (80th) Other position rankings: Centers Left Wingers Right Wingers Goaltenders If the poll below is not showing up on your newsreader, please click here to go vote. View the full article
  9. Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports Jeff Skinner and Jack Eichel will be making contributions to the community for the COVID-19 crisis Two of the Buffalo Sabres top players will be making donations to the community to support the COVID-19 crisis. Jeff Skinner announced via his Instagram that he’ll be donation $53,000 to the fund that was set up by Kim and Terry Pegula last week to support Western New York. "Thank you to all of our first responders and hospital workers on the front lines." Jeff Skinner is donating $53,000 to Terry and Kim Pegula's COVID-19 relief fund. pic.twitter.com/sSvgnVERpx — Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 1, 2020 Adam Begnini of WGRZ reported that Eichel will be teaming up with Bauer to donate masks to area hospitals. Told #Sabres Captain Jack Eichel has teamed with Bauer and will be donating thousands of masks to area hospitals. @wgrz — Adam Benigni (@AdamBenigni) April 1, 2020 In case you missed it, Bauer has been creating face shields to be distributed around the country to hospitals. The Athletic had a good story on how Bauer quickly responded to the need for PPE for those essential workers on the front lines dealing with COVID-19. The NHL announced yesterday that they’ve extended teams self isolation period until at least April 15th. It doesn’t appear that sports will be returning any time soon. Stay safe, healthy, and remember to follow the guidelines from local authorities. View the full article
  10. Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images Johan Larsson put together another strong season for the Sabres Total Season Stats: 62 GP | 6 G | 12 A | 26 PTS Age: 27 Contract Status: Pending UFA The Buffalo Sabres have their fare share of roster problems. The third line centerspot should not be one of them. Because that spot in the lineup should be vacated by Johan Larsson. The 27 year old Swedish center is closing in on 400 NHL games and is coming of his best season in the league regarding to points produced, but it’s not that column that should make him a vital part of the ever rebuilding Sabres team going forward. After being used as a shutdown center by Phil Housley with 83,4 percent of his shifts starting in the defensive zone last year, Ralph Kreuger noticed that Larsson can do more than just be a pain in the ass defensively for the opposition. The defensive zone starts were cut down to 58,97 percent and Larsson ended up putting up his highest amount of points ever in the NHL, in a season were he only played 62 games. A quick look at Larsson and his isolated impact shows just how good he was this shortened season. Look at all that blue in the defensive zone, and the good amount of red in the offensive zone. Krueger paired Larsson together with Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo and the LOG line were hailed as perhaps the best line on the team at times, but there is no question that the line was lead by Larsson. Looking at corsi he had the third best numbers of all forwards playing more than 100 minutes, only trailing Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel, at 50.73 percent. While Larsson may not have the offensive output to be a second line center, but there is reason to believe he can put up 25 points in a team that is solid. The most appealing part of the case of Johan Larsson is that he have numbers good enough to be a really good 3rd line center and an excellent 4thline center going forward. We can compare his numbers to former Toronto Maple Leafs protagonist Nazem Kadri and current Leafs center Alexander Kerfoot. Larsson is not the best at creating quality scoring chances, but the offensive output should rise if he´s surrounded with better offensive players than Girgensons and Okposo, but we can clearly see that he has better defensive numbers than both Kadri and Kerfoot – two guys considered good second and third line centers. Jason Botterill would be wise to extend the contract for the Swede (and make Rasmus Asplund the 4th line center). At worst they’ll get a center that is really smart defensively and gives his best in every shift. The question is if Larsson can get a bigger role in Buffalo or if he explores the market when free agency opens, whenever that may be. Season Grade: B View the full article
  11. With the centers and left wingers in the book, it’s time to take a look at the right wing It’s day three of the series, and I hope this is providing you some fun and friendly debates in this social distancing era. In case you missed it, this series started on Monday with the centers, and continued yesterday with the left wingers. Some Davids topped Goliaths, such as Jimmy Vesey over Evander Kane. We also saw a superstar in Jack Eichel trumped by not one, but two centers. So as we move on to the right wing today, who will be the surprise honoree? Who will reign at the top? The answers lie ahead. Before we get to the list, I just want to remind you that data involved was compared at a per-60 rate, in order to even the playing field for varying bodies of work. Consistency is rewarded above all, as every game a skater played in a Sabres uniform throughout the decade for at least 50 games was considered. In order to simplify the analysis involved, I broke down the rankings into “Offense”, “Defense”, and “Overall”. I also included the top 10 skaters’ best season, for a good trip down memory lane. With that, we’re on to the top 10 right wingers from the last decade: T-10 - Brian Flynn Overall - T-46th Offense - 60th Defense - 38th Best season - 2014-2015 A little bonus action in today’s top 10, because there was actually a tie for 10th place. Flynn’s name is somewhat synonymous with the “tank” years, since he seemed to be the no-name that made the most of his opportunity. His best attribute was his defense, helping limit goals in an era where his team was constantly outscored. T-10 - Drew Stafford Overall - T-46th Offense - 15th Defense - 75th Best season - 2010-2011 In a bigger body of work than most of his peers, Stafford had six seasons in the 2010s. The best one of them all was clearly 2010-2011, where he put up a very good .351 goals plus-minus per 60 at even-strength. His defense, specifically his shot suppression, was not very good however, which lands him lower on this list than some may have suspected. 9 - Brian Gionta Overall - 45th Offense - 28th Defense - 65th Best season - 2015-2016 Once aboard the Sabres, Gionta was tasked in a defensively responsible role as a forward. This was clearly an adjustment from the former top-six forward, and his numbers suffered a bit because of it. Overall, though, the former captain fared pretty well in offensive impacts, despite the high volume of defensive zone starts. 8 - Torrey Mitchell Overall - 39th Offense - 50th Defense - 36th Best season - 2014-2015 Another good name from the “dead era” in Sabres history, Mitchell was a little on the flashy side with his good speed. He shifted between center and right wing, and his strengths tilted towards keeping the puck out of his own end and transitioning it up the ice. 7 - Mike Grier Overall - 35th Offense - 67th Defense - 7th Best season - 2010-2011 A beloved name from the 2005-2006 cup run, you may have forgotten that Grier came back for a second stint with the Sabres to finish his career. He came back as advertised - a heady, defensive forward who wouldn’t put his teammates in bad spots when on the ice. Now an assistant coach in the NHL, Grier’s mentor-ship was nearly as valuable as his on-ice contributions. 6 - Brad Boyes Overall - 23rd Offense - 35th Defense - 16th Best season - 2011-2012 Boyes was the first big-roll for Darcy Regier under then-new owner Terry Pegula. Although he was expected to score immediately in the top-six - and he did, scoring a goal in each of his first two games for the Sabres - Boyes actually produced stronger defensive numbers in his season and a quarter. 5 - Tyler Ennis Overall - 20th Offense - 17th Defense - 45th Best season - 2011-2012 Pre-concussion Tyler Ennis was quite a sight to see on the ice, so of course it’s great to see him currently regaining form, even if it is for other clubs. Ennis in his time with the Sabres was one of their most consistent offensive threats, and had to carry the team’s top line through a difficult string of seasons. His 2011-2012 season may have been a shortened one, but it was his best in terms of even-strength goals per 60 and shot quality. 4 - Kyle Okposo Overall - 18th Offense - 24th Defense - 10th Best season - 2019-2020 It’s only been four seasons, but we’ve witnessed three different versions of Kyle Okposo. His first season was the Okposo Tim Murray surely expected upon signing him in free agency. He played on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and put up good offensive numbers. Then 2017-2018 hit, and Okposo was not himself. Negative impacts in every area of his game had us all questioning if he was okay. Towards the later half of 2018-2019, Okposo settled into a defensive shutdown role with Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons, and things just clicked. The “LOG” line stuck this past season, and their ability to maintain possession in the offensive zone and suppress shots in the defensive zone was a thing of beauty. 3 - Conor Sheary Overall - 15th Offense - 14th Defense - 32nd Best season - 2019-2020 Sheary had a tough rap in Buffalo for not finishing on a lot of the opportunities presented to him, and fairly so. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not a positive to be getting those opportunities in the areas he was. The expected goals and corsi numbers indicate that with a slight uptick in shot percentage, better linemates, or even if he received a fair shot to play with Jack Eichel, Sheary may have produced closer to what Pittsburgh Penguins fans were accustomed to seeing. 2 - Jason Pominville Overall - 2nd Offense - 1st Defense - 57th Best season - 2018-2019 It’s hard to argue what Pominville has meant to the Sabres over the span of the last 15 years, let alone 10. Among his generation, he sneakily has put up some of the most consistent numbers both production-wise and analytically. Ironically enough, his best season at even-strength in the 2010s was also his last, where Pominville amassed a .256 expected goals adjusted plus-minus per 60 minutes. This shows that even with a split tenure, Pominville found ways to be effective. In these rankings, he only takes a backseat to one other skater. 1 - Sam Reinhart Overall - 1st Offense - 9th Defense - 8th Best season - 2018-2019 To put him with Eichel, or to not put him with Eichel? That will seemingly always be the question. While you are welcome to debate whom is helping whom, the numbers all point to that Reinhart is certainly self-sufficient enough to carry his own line. His point totals were at a career-high pace in 2019-2020, but it was the season prior where Reinhart was able to display the ability to not only wingman for Eichel, but also jump-start teammates lower on the depth chart as well. His remarkable consistency in his five seasons lands him as the number one overall player on the Sabres in the last decade. Not mentioned: Patrick Kaleta (53rd overall) Cody McCormick (61st) Tage Thompson (70th) Vladimir Sobotka (78th) Chris Stewart (79th) Other position rankings: Centers Left Wingers Defensemen Goaltenders If the poll below is not showing up on your newsreader, please click here to go vote. View the full article
  12. With the centers and left wingers in the book, it’s time to take a look at the right wing It’s day three of the series, and I hope this is providing you some fun and friendly debates in this social distancing era. In case you missed it, this series started on Monday with the centers, and continued yesterday with the left wingers. Some Davids topped Goliaths, such as Jimmy Vesey over Evander Kane. We also saw a superstar in Jack Eichel trumped by not one, but two centers. So as we move on to the right wing today, who will be the surprise honoree? Who will reign at the top? The answers lie ahead. Before we get to the list, I just want to remind you that data involved was compared at a per-60 rate, in order to even the playing field for varying bodies of work. Consistency is rewarded above all, as every game a skater played in a Sabres uniform throughout the decade for at least 50 games was considered. In order to simplify the analysis involved, I broke down the rankings into “Offense”, “Defense”, and “Overall”. I also included the top 10 skaters’ best season, for a good trip down memory lane. With that, we’re on to the top 10 right wingers from the last decade: T-10 - Brian Flynn Overall - T-46th Offense - 60th Defense - 38th Best season - 2014-2015 A little bonus action in today’s top 10, because there was actually a tie for 10th place. Flynn’s name is somewhat synonymous with the “tank” years, since he seemed to be the no-name that made the most of his opportunity. His best attribute was his defense, helping limit goals in an era where his team was constantly outscored. T-10 - Drew Stafford Overall - T-46th Offense - 15th Defense - 75th Best season - 2010-2011 In a bigger body of work than most of his peers, Stafford had six seasons in the 2010s. The best one of them all was clearly 2010-2011, where he put up a very good .351 goals plus-minus per 60 at even-strength. His defense, specifically his shot suppression, was not very good however, which lands him lower on this list than some may have suspected. 9 - Brian Gionta Overall - 45th Offense - 28th Defense - 65th Best season - 2015-2016 Once aboard the Sabres, Gionta was tasked in a defensively responsible role as a forward. This was clearly an adjustment from the former top-six forward, and his numbers suffered a bit because of it. Overall, though, the former captain fared pretty well in offensive impacts, despite the high volume of defensive zone starts. 8 - Torrey Mitchell Overall - 39th Offense - 50th Defense - 36th Best season - 2014-2015 Another good name from the “dead era” in Sabres history, Mitchell was a little on the flashy side with his good speed. He shifted between center and right wing, and his strengths tilted towards keeping the puck out of his own end and transitioning it up the ice. 7 - Mike Grier Overall - 35th Offense - 67th Defense - 7th Best season - 2010-2011 A beloved name from the 2005-2006 cup run, you may have forgotten that Grier came back for a second stint with the Sabres to finish his career. He came back as advertised - a heady, defensive forward who wouldn’t put his teammates in bad spots when on the ice. Now an assistant coach in the NHL, Grier’s mentor-ship was nearly as valuable as his on-ice contributions. 6 - Brad Boyes Overall - 23rd Offense - 35th Defense - 16th Best season - 2011-2012 Boyes was the first big-roll for Darcy Regier under then-new owner Terry Pegula. Although he was expected to score immediately in the top-six - and he did, scoring a goal in each of his first two games for the Sabres - Boyes actually produced stronger defensive numbers in his season and a quarter. 5 - Tyler Ennis Overall - 20th Offense - 17th Defense - 45th Best season - 2011-2012 Pre-concussion Tyler Ennis was quite a sight to see on the ice, so of course it’s great to see him currently regaining form, even if it is for other clubs. Ennis in his time with the Sabres was one of their most consistent offensive threats, and had to carry the team’s top line through a difficult string of seasons. His 2011-2012 season may have been a shortened one, but it was his best in terms of even-strength goals per 60 and shot quality. 4 - Kyle Okposo Overall - 18th Offense - 24th Defense - 10th Best season - 2019-2020 It’s only been four seasons, but we’ve witnessed three different versions of Kyle Okposo. His first season was the Okposo Tim Murray surely expected upon signing him in free agency. He played on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and put up good offensive numbers. Then 2017-2018 hit, and Okposo was not himself. Negative impacts in every area of his game had us all questioning if he was okay. Towards the later half of 2018-2019, Okposo settled into a defensive shutdown role with Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons, and things just clicked. The “LOG” line stuck this past season, and their ability to maintain possession in the offensive zone and suppress shots in the defensive zone was a thing of beauty. 3 - Conor Sheary Overall - 15th Offense - 14th Defense - 32nd Best season - 2019-2020 Sheary had a tough rap in Buffalo for not finishing on a lot of the opportunities presented to him, and fairly so. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not a positive to be getting those opportunities in the areas he was. The expected goals and corsi numbers indicate that with a slight uptick in shot percentage, better linemates, or even if he received a fair shot to play with Jack Eichel, Sheary may have produced closer to what Pittsburgh Penguins fans were accustomed to seeing. 2 - Jason Pominville Overall - 2nd Offense - 1st Defense - 57th Best season - 2018-2019 It’s hard to argue what Pominville has meant to the Sabres over the span of the last 15 years, let alone 10. Among his generation, he sneakily has put up some of the most consistent numbers both production-wise and analytically. Ironically enough, his best season at even-strength in the 2010s was also his last, where Pominville amassed a .256 expected goals adjusted plus-minus per 60 minutes. This shows that even with a split tenure, Pominville found ways to be effective. In these rankings, he only takes a backseat to one other skater. 1 - Sam Reinhart Overall - 1st Offense - 9th Defense - 8th Best season - 2018-2019 To put him with Eichel, or to not put him with Eichel? That will seemingly always be the question. While you are welcome to debate whom is helping whom, the numbers all point to that Reinhart is certainly self-sufficient enough to carry his own line. His point totals were at a career-high pace in 2019-2020, but it was the season prior where Reinhart was able to display the ability to not only wingman for Eichel, but also jump-start teammates lower on the depth chart as well. His remarkable consistency in his five seasons lands him as the number one overall player on the Sabres in the last decade. Not mentioned: Patrick Kaleta (53rd overall) Cody McCormick (61st) Tage Thompson (70th) Vladimir Sobotka (78th) Chris Stewart (79th) Previous position rankings: Centers Left Wingers View the full article
  13. Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images The series continues with the best of the past decade at each position After a contentious debut to the series yesterday with the centers, today we tackle the left wing. I feel it’s important to remind you that this series is an evaluation of each player’s total time with the Sabres - not just their peak season. In order to compare a player with 70 games played and a player with 300 games played fairly, I used statistics on a rate basis, as compared to a total basis. Therefore, this exercise rewards consistency as opposed to peaks or longevity. Again, please note that in lieu of breaking down the algorithms weighing the analytics involved, I simplified my rankings into a player’s “Offense” rank, “Defense” rank, and “Overall” rank. In order to limit the outliers, a minimum was set of 50 games played for skaters. This left a total of 80 skaters to rank, as well as the goaltenders. All players were evaluated on their total time in a Sabres uniform in the decade. We will continue to reveal each position this week, and, without further ado, here are the top 10 left wingers: 10 - Evander Kane Overall - 39th Offense - 23rd Defense - 59th Best season - 2017-2018 The first big acquisition of the Tim Murray era, Kane brought with him high expectations from the get-go. His best statistic throughout his three seasons with the Sabres was his corsi-for, due to his knack to shoot from anywhere. In 2017-2018, Kane started to get to higher danger areas in the offensive zone more often, leading to more quality scoring chances. 9 - Victor Olofsson Overall - 33rd Offense - 26th Defense - 46th Best season - 2019-2020 Olofsson showed enough in a shortened rookie season to crack the top 10. The Swedish-born sniper no doubt benefited from playing on Jack Eichel’s line, but his big uptick is his his powerplay production. If he can sustain his shooting percentage, he will be a very useful player going forward. 8 - Nathan Gerbe Overall - 22nd Offense - 37th Defense - 20th Best season - 2010-2011 After a productive college career, Gerbe jumped into professional hockey looking like he’d become a legit scoring threat. The undersized forward, however, carved out a nice few seasons limiting quality chances against. 2010-2011 was his best, tilting the ice favorably in shot attempts. 7 - Marcus Foligno Overall - 21st Offense - 44th Defense - 4th Best season - 2012-2013 When Foligno leaped into the NHL as a major scoring threat, regression was surely in store for him. He was never able to recreate the offensive magic from his first set of games, but even for the Minnesota Wild today remains one of the best defensive wingers in the league. 6 - Jimmy Vesey Overall - 17th Offense - 18th Defense - 13th Best season - 2019-2020 This one surely made you do a double-take. Truth is, Vesey quietly put together a very favorable season in terms of impacts in different areas on the ice. Sure, his quality of teammate was fairly low, so the production wasn’t quite there. Yet, scoring 20-30 goals like Kane is one thing, but if you’re giving up more goals than you score when you’re on the ice it doesn’t mean much. Vesey wasn’t spectacular in any field, but when on the ice his team produced more goals, expected goals, and shot attempts than it gave up. 5 - Jamie McGinn Overall - 12th Offense - 16th Defense - T-2nd Best season - 2015-2016 Before Olofsson, Sam Reinhart, and Jeff Skinner, McGinn was Eichel’s first running mate. So how did he help the developing Eichel? The answer is clearly on the defensive side of the puck. Shot suppression and low quality chances were key parts of his limited tenure with the Sabres, though he was never able to settle into one place since leaving town. 4 - Matt Moulson Overall - 10th Offense - 13th Defense - 8th Best season - 2013-2014 Recency bias will remind you that Moulson was the left winger the Sabres paid NHL money to play in the AHL for a club affiliated with another team. However, when he was first acquired, Moulson put up some real consistent offensive numbers. On top of that, even though his skating deteriorated in his last couple NHL seasons, his defensive play did not. Remember, he even produced 11 powerplay goals in his last full season, so he always found a way to contribute. His final undoing with the club lasted only 14 games, so the penalty wasn’t too severe. 3 - Jeff Skinner Overall - 9th Offense - 5th Defense - 64th Best season - 2018-2019 It’s no surprise that Skinner’s stellar 2018-2019 campaign carried him to the number three spot on this list. Without Eichel this past season, not only did Skinner’s scoring dip, but he wasn’t getting the puck in high danger areas nearly enough. Despite this, he maintained a positive corsi plus-minus, indicating that, with some help from better linemates, he will be able to regain form. 2 - Jochen Hecht Overall - 6th Offense - 8th Defense - 18th Best season - 2010-2011 It’s hard to pick out one dominate season from Hecht, because he low-key dominated every shift. He limited scoring chances in his own end, and turned them into shot attempts from literally anywhere on the ice. Offense, defense, penalty kill - you name it - he showed up. Hecht even played all three forward positions, so his value was sorely missed after his departure. 1 - Thomas Vanek Overall - 3rd Offense - 2nd Defense - 52nd Best season - 2010-2011 An elite offensive talent, the newly retired Vanek came in at number three overall among skaters of the last decade. His defense, no doubt, was below average, but when you put up monster offensive numbers like he did, the good outweighed the bad. It’s probably no surprise he’s the number one left winger, as his best offensive season fell short to only that of Eichel’s most recent campaign. Not mentioned: Zemgus Girgensons (57th overall) Clarke MacArthur (62nd) John Scott (T-64th) Jordan Nolan (T-64th) Beniot Pouliot (72nd) Steve Ott (75th) Nicolas Deslauriers (76th) Other position rankings: Centers Right Wingers Defensemen Goaltenders If the poll below is not showing up on your newsreader, please click here to go vote. View the full article
  14. Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images The series continues with the best of the past decade at each position After a contentious debut to the series yesterday with the centers, today we tackle the left wing. I feel it’s important to remind you that this series is an evaluation of each player’s total time with the Sabres - not just their peak season. In order to compare a player with 70 games played and a player with 300 games played fairly, I used statistics on a rate basis, as compared to a total basis. Therefore, this exercise rewards consistency as opposed to peaks or longevity. Again, please note that in lieu of breaking down the algorithms weighing the analytics involved, I simplified my rankings into a player’s “Offense” rank, “Defense” rank, and “Overall” rank. In order to limit the outliers, a minimum was set of 50 games played for skaters. This left a total of 80 skaters to rank, as well as the goaltenders. All players were evaluated on their total time in a Sabres uniform in the decade. We will continue to reveal each position this week, and, without further ado, here are the top 10 left wingers: 10 - Evander Kane Overall - 39th Offense - 23rd Defense - 59th Best season - 2017-2018 The first big acquisition of the Tim Murray era, Kane brought with him high expectations from the get-go. His best statistic throughout his three seasons with the Sabres was his corsi-for, due to his knack to shoot from anywhere. In 2017-2018, Kane started to get to higher danger areas in the offensive zone more often, leading to more quality scoring chances. 9 - Victor Olofsson Overall - 33rd Offense - 26th Defense - 46th Best season - 2019-2020 Olofsson showed enough in a shortened rookie season to crack the top 10. The Swedish-born sniper no doubt benefited from playing on Jack Eichel’s line, but his big uptick is his his powerplay production. If he can sustain his shooting percentage, he will be a very useful player going forward. 8 - Nathan Gerbe Overall - 22nd Offense - 37th Defense - 20th Best season - 2010-2011 After a productive college career, Gerbe jumped into professional hockey looking like he’d become a legit scoring threat. The undersized forward, however, carved out a nice few seasons limiting quality chances against. 2010-2011 was his best, tilting the ice favorably in shot attempts. 7 - Marcus Foligno Overall - 21st Offense - 44th Defense - 4th Best season - 2012-2013 When Foligno leaped into the NHL as a major scoring threat, regression was surely in store for him. He was never able to recreate the offensive magic from his first set of games, but even for the Minnesota Wild today remains one of the best defensive wingers in the league. 6 - Jimmy Vesey Overall - 17th Offense - 18th Defense - 13th Best season - 2019-2020 This one surely made you do a double-take. Truth is, Vesey quietly put together a very favorable season in terms of impacts in different areas on the ice. Sure, his quality of teammate was fairly low, so the production wasn’t quite there. Yet, scoring 20-30 goals like Kane is one thing, but if you’re giving up more goals than you score when you’re on the ice it doesn’t mean much. Vesey wasn’t spectacular in any field, but when on the ice his team produced more goals, expected goals, and shot attempts than it gave up. 5 - Jamie McGinn Overall - 12th Offense - 16th Defense - T-2nd Best season - 2015-2016 Before Olofsson, Sam Reinhart, and Jeff Skinner, McGinn was Eichel’s first running mate. So how did he help the developing Eichel? The answer is clearly on the defensive side of the puck. Shot suppression and low quality chances were key parts of his limited tenure with the Sabres, though he was never able to settle into one place since leaving town. 4 - Matt Moulson Overall - 10th Offense - 13th Defense - 8th Best season - 2013-2014 Recency bias will remind you that Moulson was the left winger the Sabres paid NHL money to play in the AHL for a club affiliated with another team. However, when he was first acquired, Moulson put up some real consistent offensive numbers. On top of that, even though his skating deteriorated in his last couple NHL seasons, his defensive play did not. Remember, he even produced 11 powerplay goals in his last full season, so he always found a way to contribute. His final undoing with the club lasted only 14 games, so the penalty wasn’t too severe. 3 - Jeff Skinner Overall - 9th Offense - 5th Defense - 64th Best season - 2018-2019 It’s no surprise that Skinner’s stellar 2018-2019 campaign carried him to the number three spot on this list. Without Eichel this past season, not only did Skinner’s scoring dip, but he wasn’t getting the puck in high danger areas nearly enough. Despite this, he maintained a positive corsi plus-minus, indicating that, with some help from better linemates, he will be able to regain form. 2 - Jochen Hecht Overall - 6th Offense - 8th Defense - 18th Best season - 2010-2011 It’s hard to pick out one dominate season from Hecht, because he low-key dominated every shift. He limited scoring chances in his own end, and turned them into shot attempts from literally anywhere on the ice. Offense, defense, penalty kill - you name it - he showed up. Hecht even played all three forward positions, so his value was sorely missed after his departure. 1 - Thomas Vanek Overall - 3rd Offense - 2nd Defense - 52nd Best season - 2010-2011 An elite offensive talent, the newly retired Vanek came in at number three overall among skaters of the last decade. His defense, no doubt, was below average, but when you put up monster offensive numbers like he did, the good outweighed the bad. It’s probably no surprise he’s the number one left winger, as his best offensive season fell short to only that of Eichel’s most recent campaign. Not mentioned: Zemgus Girgensons (57th overall) Clarke MacArthur (62nd) John Scott (T-64th) Jordan Nolan (T-64th) Beniot Pouliot (72nd) Steve Ott (75th) Nicolas Deslauriers (76th) Previous position rankings: Centers View the full article
  15. Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images All the details on catching some hockey on TV It’s now been three weeks since the Buffalo Sabres last played a game; in case you forgot, the Sabres defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 in a shootout on March 9. Tonight, the Sabres were scheduled to be hosting those same Capitals for a 7 p.m. puck drop at KeyBank Center. Instead, Sabres fans - and hockey fans on a larger scale - are left waiting for the NHL season’s pause to end. Have no fear. Although there may not be any live Sabres hockey this week, there’s still plenty of chances to catch the Buffalo team & other hockey action on TV over the next few days. Monday, March 30 5 p.m., NBCSN / 2014 Western Conference Final: Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Game 7 6 p.m., NHL Network / 1997 Stanley Cup Final: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Detroit Red Wings, Game 4 8 p.m., MSG / Sabres Classics: November 17, 2005 - Sabres win 8-5 over the Capitals. Taylor Pyatt scores a hat trick, while Tim Connolly also records three points. 11 p.m., NHL Network / 1995 Stanley Cup Final: Red Wings vs. New Jersey Devils, Game 4 Tuesday, March 31 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., NHL Network / 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championships: Various games 5 p.m., NBCSN / 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins, Game 7 (Spoiler alert: Patrice Bergeron scores a big goal, and the Leafs lose.) 7 - 9 p.m., NHL Network / 2020 Women’s Rivalry Series: USA vs. Canada, two games 8 p.m., MSG / Sabres Classics: December 19, 2005 - Sabres defeat the Flyers 2-1 in the shootout to capture their seventh consecutive win. Wednesday, April 1 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., NHL Network / 1998 - 2000 Stanley Cup Finals. Game six from 1999 airs at 1 0 a.m., so have something ready to throw at your TV. 8 p.m., MSG / Sabres Classics: February 4, 2006 - Thomas Vanek scores the game-winning goal in a shootout as the Sabres best the Ottawa Senators by a score of 2-1. Thursday, April 2 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., NHL Network / 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships: Various games 5 p.m., NBCSN / 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Game 7 8 p.m., MSG / Sabres Classics: March 16, 2006 - It’s always fun watching a win over the Leafs. This time, Buffalo beats Toronto 3-1 and extends their winning streak to eight. Friday, April 3 3 p.m. - 1 a.m., NHL Network / Various NHL games from the 2019-20 season. None involving the Sabres, but the Golden Knights are well-represented with a pair of games. 8 p.m., MSG / Sabres Classics: April 5, 2006 - Daniel Briere scores a couple clutch goals late in regulation and overtime to give Buffalo a heroic 5-4 win over the Senators. Saturday, April 4 12 p.m., NHL Network / 2018 Winter Classic: Sabres vs. Rangers (Citi Field); game is preceded by and followed by two episodes of Road to the Winter Classic, so you can watch from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. if you want! 3 p.m. - 1 a.m., NHL Network / Various NHL games from the 2019-20 season. None involving the Sabres, but a couple involving the Capitals. Sunday, April 5 3 p.m. - 1 a.m., NHL Network / Various NHL games from the 2019-20 season. None involving the Sabres, but two involving the Leafs if that’s your cup of tea. View the full article
×
×
  • Create New...