With the 2011-12 ending in disappointment and after a few weeks for us to gather our thoughts, it's time for us to issue our report cards on the season. Over the next few weeks, we'll grade every player that wore a Buffalo Sabres uniform in 2011 and 2012, from to .
|2011 - Alexander Sulzer||27||3||6||9||8||8||0||0||0||33|
Introduction: Alexander Sulzer came to the Sabres along with Cody Hodgson in the trade that saw the Sabres sending Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani to the Vancouver Canucks minutes before the expiration of the trade deadline. As far as the fans were concerned, Sulzer was initially an afterthought in that trade with the other three being more polarizing factors. However in the run-in to the end of the regular season, Sulzer would end up playing a big role in the Sabres staying alive in the playoff hunt right until the last week.
Primarily a stay-at-home defenseman, Sulzer surprised one and all with some key contributions, including 3G and 5A in the 15 games he dressed for the Blue & Gold. His pairing with Christian Ehrhoff was offensively effective and until Ehrhoff's season-ending injury, looked to have played a pivotal role in playoff qualification.
Sulzer was a pleasant upgrade to the the much-maligned Gragnani, who had drawn the ire of many Sabres fans with his lack of physical commitment. At 6'1" and 204lbs, he hasn't been afraid to throw his weight around. He is a solid third-pairing dman who doesn't excel at anything in particular, but does everything reasonably enough. The Sabres management saw enough that they liked over that period to give him a one-year contract valued at $725,000. Training camp could see some fascinating battles for roster spots with Sulzer, Mike Weber, Brayden McNabb, TJ Brennan and possibly Mark Pysyk all in the mix.
Key Stat: Sulzer's shooting percentage - 9.1%. With just over one shot on goal per game, Sulzer ties Jordan Leopold for second in shooting percentage among the Sabres dmen. He has shown that he can be quietly effective and capable of an offensive outburst or two, like his two-goal game against the Maple Leafs in the 6-5 OT win when the Sabres came back from 3-0 down in the first period.
Thumbs Up: On a side loaded with offensive-minded dmen, Sulzer is a jack-of-all-trades who appears to do everything well enough to merit the 6th dman spot, which he will be battling for come training camp. His partnership with Ehrhoff seemed to blossom as time went on and shows great potential next season.
Thumbs Down: The same qualities that give him a thumbs up are also the reason for a thumbs down. Sulzer is solid yet unspectacular, and hasn't distinguished himself at any aspect of the game. Having never played more than 31 games in a year, it remains to be seen whether he can hold down a spot for the duration of the season.
Voting: On a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, grade Alexander Sulzer on his season according to the expectations you had for him. If he met them, give him a five or a six. If he eclipsed them, aim for a seven or beyond. If he failed to meet them, give him a lower number relating to how poorly he missed the target.