Last week, Tim Murray acquired two players in Briand Gionta and Josh Gorges who were members of the Montreal Canadiens last season, and are expected to play important roles for the Buffalo Sabres this year. To find out more about what Sabres fans can expect from these two, we reached out to Andrew Berkshire, managing editor of Eyes on the Prize, for his perspective. Here's what he had to say.
On Brian Gionta
Brian Gionta is a player who has been subject to a lot of criticism in recent years. At 35 years old and after two very serious surgeries (on on each arm) to re-attach his biceps, both of which had torn right off the bone within a calendar year, his shot isn't what it used to be. He may not be able to give you 20+ goals anymore, but he's going to come close to it every year because he's always in the right areas.
The best thing about Gionta though, is that his game is so versatile. If you need him to play 20 minutes a night in hard minutes, and be Mr. Everything, he can do it. He's not going to score a point per game doing it, but he will get more than he gives up. He's a fantastic two-way player and leader who will be an example to youngsters. He's likely best utilized as a defensive minded third liner who can chip in 40 points, but he can play above that if need be.
On Josh Gorges
Josh Gorges is basically impossible. He's not the greatest skater, he's not the strongest, he's not the best puck mover or puck handler, yet every game he finds ways to make a difference. He is that extremely rare defensive defenseman who's actually a difference maker. He isn't going to give much offense, especially since his #1 play with the puck at the point is to dump it into the corner.
Gorges is a safe player who rarely makes mental mistakes, blocks an inordinate number of shots, and can compliment a puck mover very well. He and Subban together essentially eliminated the possibility of transition offense from opponents because they're both so good at stopping players at the blueline. Gorges won't look as good in Buffalo as he did in Montreal simply because he doesn't have Subban with him, but he could be the stay-at-home guy that helps Tyler Myers get back to what he was supposed to be.
Thanks again to Andrew Berkshire for sharing his thoughts on the former Canadiens.