With the 2011-12 Buffalo Sabres 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 Luke Adam to Mike Weber.
|2011 - Paul Szczechura||9||1||3||4||0||4||0||0||0||11|
Introduction: Signed on for the Rochester Amerks for forward depth, his play early on in the minors caught the eye of Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff, who called him to the Sabres when the injuries started piling up around the end of November. Szczechura got off to a flying start playing pivot with two assists in his first game, a 5-1 thrashing of the Washington Capitals. His output cooled off after that, and he was returned to the Amerks just before Christmas having played 9 games, tallying 1G and 3A in that time.
Fondly nicknamed 'Chewy' by his Rochester teammates, the journeyman forward had played on the Tampa Bay Lightning previously as well. Despite his 5'10" 186lb frame, he was well-received by the fans with his bustling style and willingness to go into the dirty areas of the ice to fight for the puck. He finished the AHL season second on the Amerks squad in points with 21G & 25A in 57 games. His excellent year caught the eye of scouts abroad, and Szczechura signed a one year contract for the upcoming season with KHL club HC Lev of Prague, along with fellow Amerk Drew MacIntyre.
Key Stat: The two assists in his first game as a Sabre caught the fans' attention, but the same lack of scoring that afflicted most of the Sabres forwards this year soon caught up with him. Szczechura had all the look of a career AHLer who struggled at times to keep up with the pace and intensity of the NHL game, much like Mark Mancari who also failed to convert his glittering minors' stats into points on the big stage.
Thumbs Up: His energy and leadership played a big part in the development of the Amerks squad this year.
Thumbs Down: Grinders with limited offensive output are dime-a-dozen in the NHL nowadays, and at 26 it appears Szczechura has maxed out on his potential.
Voting: On a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, grade Paul Szczechura 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.