2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres Report Cards: Tyler Myers

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 - Tyler Myers 55 8 15 23 5 33 3 0 1 84 9.5

Introduction: When fans think about the future of the Buffalo Sabres, few players, if any, are more important to that future than defenseman Tyler Myers. A former Calder winner and (hopefully) a future Norris Trophy candidate, Myers was important enough to the Sabres organization that they signed him to a seven year extension at $5.5 million per year. If Myers develops as his coaches and fans hope, that extension could end up being one of the best contracts in the NHL, but at this point, that's still a big if.

In another up-and-down season for the young defenseman, Myers suffered through both injuries and stretches of poor play, and was even a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. However, there were also plenty of stretches where he reminded us why everyone assumes he's the heir apparent to Zdeno Chara's "gigantic perennial Norris contender" crown. Let's dig a little deeper into Myers' season after the break.

Key Stat: One of the biggest complaints about Myers' play over his three year carer is that he doesn't play big enough, or physical enough. Well despite playing in just 55 games this year, Myers still finished 5th on the team in hits and 6th in blocked shots, and was on his way to producing career highs in both. He even got into his first fight this year, and didn't look terrible. Anybody who watched his play on the ice this season could see that he finally started playing with a sense of grit and toughness that he'd only shown flashes of before, especially as the team rolled through their last few months. This is a very encouraging development for the player that the Sabres have pinned their hopes to for the next seven years.

Interesting Stat: It seems as if young Tyler has a healthy dose of clutch in him. In just his third season, Myers became the Sabres’ all-time leader in OT goals by a defenseman with three - and the goal also tied him with Brian Campbell and Alexei Zhitnik for fifth-most GWG by a defenseman in Sabres history, with seven.

Thumbs Up: Once he got past his early season blues and recovered from his hand injury, Myers was as reliable as they come, finishing a +14 over the last two months. The big man was on pace for a new career high in goals, projecting over 82 games to finish with 12. He finished second on the team in TOI behind Christian Ehrhoff (also locked up for 9 more years) and Myers sees significant time on both the PP and PK. His skating is still buttery, and his defensive play improved with the aforementioned infusion of grit.

My favorite part about Tyler Myers? He's still so young for a franchise defenseman - at just 22 years old, his best years are still ahead of him.

Thumbs Down: Myers saw a precipitous drop in his assist total this season - over 82 games he projected to just 22 assists, a far cray from the 37 of his rookie season or even his 27 of last season. He disappointed on the power play - despite receiving significant time, he finished with a paltry 7 points; that's lower than Brad Boyes, for goodness sake! Myers still needs to improve in his decision making, having significantly more giveaways (44) than takeaways (26).

Myers was also not usually used on the top defensive pairing, playing more against middling competition on the second unit. Not necessarily a thumbs down because it's more of a coaching decision, but for a franchise d-man, you'd like to see him matched up against the best.

Voting: On a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, grade Tyler Myers 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 Tyler Myers for his 2011-12 season?