The Buffalo Sabres made a minor splash yesterday by signing free agent center Kevin Porter from the Colorado Avalanche. Since the team just confirmed the signing via Twitter, we thought it would be good for fans to get to know the team's newest acquisition.
|2011 - Kevin Porter||35||4||3||7||-2||17||0||0||0||32||12.5|
Porter, a former Hobey Baker Award winner, split time last season in Colorado between the fourth line and the press box after posting a career year in 2010-11. Now, before we get further into analyzing his game, I'm going to make the educated guess that Porter will start the season in Rochester and will be a frequent injury call-up, much like Paul Szczechura was last season, and after checking out his stats, I think you'll see why.
Despite winning the Hobey Baker in 2008, Porter has never been able to find consistent success in the NHL. He did score 14 goals in 74 games in 2010-11, but aside from that his highest goal total over his five NHL seasons is just 5. He's never had a plus/minus better than +1, and that was in the season where he played just four games for Phoenix. He averaged 9:10 of ice time per game last season for Colorado.
For a center, Porter is pretty terrible at faceoffs, taking just 46 all of last season and finishing at a wearing-a-blindfold number of 30.4%. His faceoff numbers were so abysmal that, according to this Q&A with an Avs blogger, he primarily played wing last year. This, combined with the fact that his 2011-12 Avalanche Report Card from Mile High Hockey says that he "just doesn't do the fourth line stuff," indicates to me that he'll be a solid-to-good AHL player for the Amerks next year, not a third or fourth line center option in Buffalo.
After the break, a few more tidbits, and some things Porter does well.
Porter didn't see much special teams time at all last season, though he has played a bit on the power play before. He's limited by his small frame, and doesn't seem to the be the kind of two-way forward that Lindy Ruff likes to have in his bottom six, but his ability to play either center or wing is a plus.
Porter doesn't seem like either a hitter or a shot blocker (that would be the aforementioned "fourth line stuff") but when he does hit, he does so cleanly; Porter is one of the top players in the NHL at avoiding minor penalties while hitting, according to Arctic Ice Hockey. He's also very professional and a hard worker, and was usually the last person off the ice after Avalanche practices. That's the kind of attitude that will help out any team, whether he plays in the NHL or AHL.
So those are the facts, Sabres fans. Do you think Porter has a shot at making the blue and gold's roster next year, or is he destined for Rochester?