2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres Report Cards: Patrick Kaleta

With the 2011-12 Buffalo Sabres ending in disappointment and after a few weeks for us to gather our thoughts, it's time for us to issue our report cards on the season. Over the next few weeks, we'll grade every player that wore a Buffalo Sabres uniform in 2011 and 2012, from Luke Adam to Mike Weber.

2011 - Patrick Kaleta 63 5 5 10 -5 116 0 0 1 69

Introduction: The local boy had another season marked by injury, playing in only 63 games. However, would you believe that 63 games played was actually a new high mark for Kaleta during his NHL career? Kaleta had never played more than 55 games in a season. These durability issues, coupled with a decline in offensive production over the past two years would lead the average onlooker to think the Sabres wouldn't be too quick to bring the restricted free agent back next year. However, Kaleta's value to the team isn't in the scoring department, and the Sabres' front office has already expressed interest in bringing him back next season. Add in the fact that the market for his services shouldn't be all that hot, and it's easy to expect Kaleta to continue his career close to home. But should it be that much of a no brainer? Take the jump to read more and vote:

Key Stat: Shot Percentage of 7.2%. This ranked Kaleta 19th overall on the team, and 4th last among all eligible forwards for the Sabres this year. But honestly, did you expect this number to be any different? We've seen some offensive flashes during Kaleta's short career, but they're usually gone just as fast. The key stat for Kaleta, whether you view it as a positive or negative, is probably the 116 penalty minutes he racked up in just 63 games this season. That puts him first on the team, and almost DOUBLE the next player on the list, Paul Gaustad. Kaleta is out there to rattle some cages, rough up the opponent, and provide some energy. In that department, he tends to excel.

Thumbs Up: As mentioned above, if there is one thing that Kaleta does well, it's bring physicality to the game to fire up his team and the crowd. Things like this, this, and this. For a team that's short on "tough guys", especially with the departure of Paul Gaustad, Kaleta could be more important to the team than it initially appears.

Thumbs Down: Kaleta had Brendan Shanahan's eye on him this season, drawing a four game suspension early in the year for a head butt, costing him almost $20k in salary. Yes, we've seen many players in the league get away with more, but Shanahan made it clear that Kaleta's history of head butting was taken into consideration. It's something to keep an eye on as his career progresses. Will Kaleta dial back his intensity, with thoughts of a future suspension in his mind? Or will he continue to play with reckless abandon (in a good way), as the team's physical spark plug?

Should the Sabres think twice about being so quick to extend Kaleta? Darcy Regier and company will need to be creative with cap space this offseason. Try to put aside the fact that Kaleta is a local guy. Does his skill set really put him above guys like Corey Tropp or Matt Ellis? The physical factor alone may be enough.

Voting: On a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, grade Patrick Kaleta on his season according to the expectations you had for him. If he met them, give him a five or a six. If he eclipsed them, aim for a seven or beyond. If he failed to meet them, give him a lower number relating to how poorly he missed the target.

On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how would you rate Patrick Kaleta for his 2011-12 season?