This week the Buffalo Sabres will hit the ice at HARBORCENTER for training camp. Heading into this year it’s playoffs or bust for most fans, but is the roster talented enough for the Sabres to end its five year playoff drought?
As camp draws near, 7ABC will take a closer look at the training camp roster and put together our list of the “Top 20 Talents.”
Here’s the criteria on how the rankings will be established:
-Overall skill level
-Age, improving/declining ability
On to the countdown:
No. 14. C – Zemgus Girgensons
Why He's Here
In 2014, Zemgus Girgensons was an NHL All Star (15G, 15A, 61 GP). In 2015, Girgensons’ production fell off significantly, finishing the year with 18 points (7G, 11A, 71 GP). The addition of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly and even Jamie McGinn pushed Girgensons down the depth chart and limited his ice time. The 22-year-old was responsible in his own zone, finishing 2015-2016 season with an even +/-, but the offensive numbers just weren’t there. In the offseason, Girgensons agreed to a new one year contract with the Sabres.
It’s important to remember that Girgensons is still 22-years-old. He has the time and potential to drastically improve his game in the next few years. After signing a one year contract, the question is whether or not that will be with the Sabres. Girgensons likely won’t get time with the Sabres top six this year, barring an injury. If that’s the case, he’ll need to contribute while playing with the bottom six and contribute with the penalty kill. If Girgensons has a solid year, he’ll likely look for more money with his next contract, and that might not be in Buffalo. The Sabres likely won’t want to dish out a big contract for someone playing third line minutes, but if Girgensons proves to be a solid third line player that contributes in both ends, the Sabres will want to keep him for a bargain.
Girgensons is too good to play on the Sabres fourth line, but not good enough to play with the Sabres best forwards on a regular basis. It’s a tough position to be in. If Girgensons produces more offensively, and I think he will, then maybe he’ll get some time with players like Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly on a more regular basis. I think Girgensons is closer to the player we saw in 2014 than 2015, but he needs to prove that this year. If he can, he’ll get a new contract somewhere.