Contract: Signed through 2014-15 at $550,000
Report Card Grade in 2013: D
Introduction: A mainstay in the Sabres organization for the past few years, Matt Ellis has bounced back and forth between Portland/Rochester and Buffalo, and gives whichever team he plays for a consistent, solid effort with minimal upside. At this point, we all know what Matt Ellis is going to bring, and while it isn't much in terms of on-ice production, Ellis has proven himself to be a valuable asset to the locker room and a good role model for the young players in the AHL.
Key Stat: Matt Ellis generated more shots per 60 minutes than any other forward on the Sabres roster - more than Stafford, Ennis, or Hodgson. Unfortunately, it didn't result in great Corsi numbers, more like right in the middle Corsi numbers. Just thought it was interesting that a fourth line guy generated shots at the same rate as the team's top scorers.
Thumbs Up: Ellis was the king of the giveaway/takeaway ratio, taking away 17 pucks while only giving up 3. He was started in the defensive zone more than any regular forward save, oddly enough, Cody Hodgson, so his average possession stats actually work out in his favor here. Played well on the penalty kill, and by all accounts ()from his teammates and coaches) is a top-notch dressing room guy. His four goals this year were the second-highest total of his career.
Thumbs Down: For a fourth line guy, Ellis doesn't hit or block shots at a very high rate, though he's obviously not afraid to do either. While he was used in a very defensive role, he also played against the second-easiest competition after John Scott. There's honestly not a lot of downside to Matt Ellis aside from the fact that he has minimal NHL talent, which, to be fair, is a pretty big downside.
Memorable Moment: It wasn't with the Sabres, but Matt Ellis scored a goal and had the shootout winner during the Amerks win at the Frozen Frontier game this year.
Voting: We're grading on a curve this year, adjusting for the Sabres organizational ineptitude. So, using the good old grade school system of A, B, C, D, F, with A representing a great season (for the Sabres) C an average season, and F a very poor season (again, for the worst team in the league) grade Matt Ellis on his performance this year.