Buffalo Sabres forward Tyler Ennis is nearing his return to the lineup. He doesn't know when that return will be, but he does know when it happens he needs to be better.
"I just have to bring a lot more than what I have, you know since my start," Ennis said. "I have a lot more to give and a lot more to contribute so I can't wait to get back and play out there."
Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma wouldn't commit to a possible return day for Ennis. After practice, Ennis didn't rule out playing against the Flyers at home on Tuesday when talking with reporters -- which leads me to believe that a return could absolutely happen this week.
Ennis, 27, had only two points (1G, 1A) in 12 games played before missing the Sabres last 27 games with a groin injury. The most startling stat was his -6 plus/minus in only 12 games. Defense has never been one of Ennis' strong suits, but his start was pretty lackluster.
Statistically Ennis' best season came in 2010-2011 when he finished with 49 points. Since Ennis has two seasons with more than 40 points:
2013-2014: 43 points
2014-2015: 46 points
Ennis has struggled with injuries, missing 69 games last season, along with the 27 he's already missed this year.
If he can stay healthy from here on out his impact moving forward could prove to be valuable to a Sabres team looking to make a playoff push.
I'm not ready to drink the Tyler Ennis Kool-Aid just yet.
There's no denying that he is a talented player who has proven that he can score in the N.H.L., but he hasn't done that since the #EmbraceTheTank season. Ahh the memories.
Not that I need to remind you, but that season the Sabres were basically playing with an AHL roster. Ennis got oodles of minutes and played more than he ever has, which may have inflated his numbers at least a bit.
Don't get me wrong -- Ennis' return will help give the Sabres a spark, but I don't expect him to put up massive numbers. However, I do think Ennis gives the Sabres more depth, which in turn leads to more production, so that's at least something to be optimistic about.
You shouldn't read too much into this because lines change all the time -- but at practice on Monday Ennis was rotating in on a line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo. If that's where he'll play when he's able to return I can see the line thriving, especially when you consider how responsible O'Reilly and Okposo are in their own end.
Ennis return should also help give the second power play unit a nice boost -- his hands and playmaking ability are something that unit is missing.
This is just an estimate -- but if Ennis can finish the second half of the season with 15 goals then I'm sure the Sabres would be happy -- and while that may be a little lofty, he has the talent to get it done if he can finally stay healthy.