2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres Report Cards: Brayden McNabb

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 16: Mikhail Grabovski #84 of the Toronto Maple Leafs is checked off his feet by Brayden McNabb #81 of the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on December 16, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

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.


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT

2011 - Brayden McNabb

AHL

25

45

1

5

7

25

8

30

-1

15

15

31

1

1

0

0

0

23

68

4.3

7.4


Introduction:Brayden McNabb was nothing more than a promising young defenseman as the 2011-12 season began, and now that the season is complete, the debate among fans is whether or not he'll be the sixth defenseman next year over Mike Weber.

Recalled for the first time on November 26, McNabb spent the season jumping back and forth from the Sabres to the Amerks, with a short trip to Injured Reserve in the middle thanks to an upper body injury. It didn't take long for fans to fall in love with his propensity for Carubba Collisions, but his not-terrible defensive play (especially for a rookie) allowed him to fill in admirably for various injured blueliners during the year. Let's dig a little deeper into McNabb's first professional season after the break.

Key Stat: McNabb's 49 hits and 30 blocked shots in just 25 NHL games would translate to 150 hits and 98 blocked shots for a full season, and those projections would have ranked the rookie second in hits and third in blocked shots this season on Buffalo's squad. Physical defenseman indeed.

Thumbs Up: Despite being called up midway through the season, McNabb was still named to the 2012 AHL All-Star game, which is always nice. And it was for good reason - along with his physical game, he was very productive in Rochester, finishing eighth on the Amerks in points which tied the more offensively-minded TJ Brennan in points. In Buffalo, McNabb saw a good amount of penalty kill time, and a bit of power play time. He owns a pretty good breakout pass, and has enough offensive potential that he shouldn't be labeled as purely a defensive defenseman. Had more takeaways than giveaways.

Thumbs Down:As a 21-year old defenseman, there's still plenty of ways for McNabb to refine his game, especially in his own zone (like no more hip-checks, please.) McNabb was protected by the coaching staff, seeing action mostly against the easiest competition on the other team. Thanks to that and a 25-game season in Buffalo, it's tough to rend judgement against the youngster, but one thing he can work on is his knowledge of the game - that is, when to go for the big hit over being more defensively responsible. Sometimes his monster jams would leave him out of position and the Sabres in a defensive disadvantage.

Voting: On a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, grade Brayden McNabb 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.

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