Sabres training camp is still over a month away, that gives us time to start projecting what this team will do in the 2010-2011 season. Over the next month, Die by the Blade will look at each Sabres player individually and project what they will do in the 2010-2011 season. We begin today with "Sabres fans whipping boy" Tim Connolly.
Sometime between his 17 game point streak in the beginning of 2010 and the end of the Sabres first round playoff exit, Tim Connolly became enemy number one for Sabres fans and the media. Connolly led the team in assists last season and finished second in points behind Derek Roy, yet Sabres fans continue to call for his removal from the team.
We have spoken at length about the trade scenarios including Connolly but with the season just about two months away, I expect he will at least start the season in a Sabres uniform. Part of the knock on Connolly is his inability to stay healthy. He has a history of concussions and a history of bad luck. He remained relatively healthy last season, playing in 73 games, but he was hampered in the playoffs by an injury that limited him at the end of the regular season.
Those same injury question marks will remain this season and for the rest of his career. Still at age 29 he has a huge offensive upside and plenty of good years of hockey left, if he remains healthy.
#19 / Center / Buffalo Sabres
May 07, 1981
Three Year Stats
Connolly is consistently near a point-per-game over the previous three years but he has yet to play a full season. Last season he played 73 games, but he played in only 48 the previous two seasons. This is a great cause for concern because he is expected to be a top six forward and contribute at both even strength and on the power play.
Now the fun part, we are going to try to project what Tim Connolly will do in 2010-2011. I expect these projections will be way off but we can poke fun at ourselves later.
2010-2011 Statistical Projections
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While I still consider Connolly to be a top six forward in the NHL, I suspect that he will start his statistical decline this season. At 29 years-old, he could still provide the team with an offensive spark, but I suspect that injuries have taken their toll on TC and he will slowly decline. His potential linemates could play a huge factor in his point production as well.
Feel free to share your projections in the comment section and debate away.