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Mancari Called Up, But Other Pirates Have Been Disappointing

Mark Mancari will play tonight for Buffalo in place of the still-injured Drew Stafford. (Well, technically in place of Chris Butler, who played much better at forward than I think anyone thought he would.) This will be Mancari's first call-up of the season to a Sabres team struggling to find goal-scoring and consistency. 

Mancari's career has been confusing to many Sabres fans; he always puts up big numbers in the AHL, gets called up a few times each season, but never seems to stick with the Sabres in mid-season or training camp. Here's a bigger guy (6'3'', 225) who has put up 29 and 28 goals in his last two seasons in Portland, leads the Pirates in goals (12) and points (26) this season, yet gets passed over in favor of the highly-touted-yet-unproven Luke Adam when the Sabres first needed an injury replacement. 

Mancari's sub-par skating ability and lack of consistent defensive play have kept him out of the NHL thus far, but it's his offense that Buffalo will lean on during this call-up. Buffalo is currently 25th in the NHL in goals per game, at a measly 2.41, so it will be interesting to see if Mancari plays somewhere other than the fourth line tonight in order to try and spark some offense.

It would be helpful to the Sabres if his former Portland Pirates mates could chip in a bit more on the offensive end. After the jump let's take a look at just how little the Sabres rookies not named Tyler Ennis have contributed thus far.

Do you want the bad news first or the good news? Well it doesn't matter, because I can't hear you anyway, so let's start with something positive. Tyler Ennis was once in the hunt to lead all rookies in points this season. While he has cooled off recently (3 points in his last 8 games) he still has 6 goals and 8 assists this season, as well as a sweet shootout winner that helped to spark the Sabres out of their awful start. Ennis has jumped lines a few times, but seems to produce points most often when paired with Roy and Vanek, as he should. His 14 points through 27 games projects to about 41 for the season - not bad for a rookie.

The other Portland call-ups, however, are not faring so well. Nathan Gerbe, Luke Adam, and Mike Weber and Colin Stuart have combined for a grand total of 4 assists through 34 total games played. That's less production out of four guys combined than the corpse of Rob Niedermayer has given the team. We can probably throw out Stuart and Weber's numbers, since Stuart has played only 3 games and Weber is a defensive defenseman who has generally played good defense.

Luke Adam has been a mild disappointment thus far. He has added almost nothing to the stats sheet, and looks highly uncertain of himself with the puck. I still have high hopes for him, but the 20-year old seems like he's not quite ready to make the leap from the QMJHL to the NHL. The one positive thing he has going for him is that he looks gigantic on the ice compared to the other Sabres forwards. Unfortunately, the fact that he looks like a baby-faced viking skating next to Pominville isn't enough to make up for his lack of goals.

Nathan Gerbe has to be one of the biggest disappointments on the team this season, at least for me. I have always been a "give Gerbe a chance, I don't care how small he is" kind of guy, and I had high hopes for him going into this season. However, 17 games played with only 3 assists is simply not going to cut it; Matt Ellis gives you that, and some size to boot. I still love Gerbe's quickness, and he has the sort of good idea/bad idea creativity that a younger version of Roy had, but if he's not scoring goals then he doesn't belong on the ice in the NHL. Nathan, you've got to start putting pucks in the net or, I can't believe I'm going to say this, he should be sent down and either Ellis or Stuart called up.