|2012 - Steve Ott||48||9||15||24||3||93||2||0||3||73|
Contract: $2.95 million cap hit, signed through 2013-14 season
Report Card for 2012: N/A
Introduction: Steve Ott (along with Adam Pardy) was brought to Buffalo in a trade that saw the unpopular Derek Roy leave town. Ott quickly became the anti-Roy; he hit, fought, gave interesting interviews, and left everything he had on the ice. And boy did Buffalo fans learn to love him quickly. Somewhere around the midway point of the shortened season, Ott was getting larger cheers than Miller most nights during the pre-game introductions, and the "Mama Said Knock You Ott" sign is now a staple of the 300 section.
By the end of the season, Ott's sweater was adorned with a well-deserved A, and he had earned the respect and trust of his fellow players, and coaching staff. Let's dig in to Ott's 2013 season to see just how this newcomer so quickly became a fan and team favorite.
Key Stat: 18:33 was Ott's average TOI this season, and it was tops among all Sabres forwards (well, aside from Jason Pominville, but out of Buffalo, out of mind). Ron Rolston came to trust Ott to do his job more than anyone else on the forward line, and Ott's 100% all-out style obviously endeared himself to his new head coach, not to mention Sabres fans. He was rewarded with top-line minutes, proving that Ron Rolston will reward effort and responsibility over pure talent.
Thumbs Up: Ott lead the team and finished third in the entire league with 187 hits, and became the first palyer since Paul Gaustad in 2008 to register 10 or more hits in a game, which he did twice this year. Ott also lead the Sabres with 93 PIMs, and is willing enough to drop the gloves when called upon. He was very good in the dot, winning 55.9% of his faceoffs, good for 10th best in the NHL. Offensively, he finished fifth on the team in points, and led all Sabres with three game winners. He was also one of just two players to appear in all 48 games, along with Cody Hodgson.
Perhaps the most impressive thing, however, is that Ott did all this while going up against the best competition the other team had to offer. Not only did he get serious minutes, but they often came against the opponent's top line, with Ott being asked not only to chip in offensively, but to shut down the best his opponents had to offer.
Oh, and there was this. A thousand times this.
Thumbs Down: For a guy who's supposed to kill penalties and shut down the opposition, Ott doesn't block as many shots as you would expect, stopping only 21. He also takes a lot of penalties, not all of them necessary. Some of that comes from his play style, some from his reputation, but it's not commensurate with the rate he draws penalties for them to be worthwhile.
Voting: Using the good old grade system of A, B, C, D, F, with A representing a great season, C an average season, and F a very poor season, grade Steve Ott on his performance this season compared to the expectations you had for him.