2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres Report Cards: Corey Tropp

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 - Corey Tropp 34 3 5 8 0 20 0 0 1 0 32 9.4%

Introduction: Formerly a 3rd round pick (89th overall) from the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Corey Tropp saw his first NHL minutes last season when he was called up for a suspended Patrick Kaleta (see: Headbutting Incident). At the time of this call-up, Tropp was chosen over other higher ranked prospects (Kassian) and veterans (Colin Stuart) due to his hot AHL start (7 pts. in 10 games). Initially thought of as a short-term or emergency call-up, Tropp's hustle, work ethic, and physicality (47 hits and 2 fighting majors) allowed him to have an extended stay in the big show, playing 34 games during 2011-2012.

Fondly nicknamed by some as "Tropp-ic Thunder" and unfondly nicknamed as "milkbag" by others, the 5'11", 185 lbs. Tropp seemed to adequately replace the minutes of an injured Patrick Kaleta and more than adequately replace the ice time of Cody McCormick. While I personally was not aware of Tropp's value in our system, I really think he could play a solid fourth line role on any team in the NHL. If Cody McCormick has another injury plagued and offensive down year as he did in 2011-12, you could see Tropp enter into a more full-time role on the team due to his similar style in play and lower cap value ($500K smaller cap hit than McCormick).

Key Stat: According to Player Usage Charts, Tropp had the least sheltered minutes of any rookie on the Sabres this past season. While he does not get the defensive "shut-down" role like wingers Gerbe and Kaleta have, he does get more responsible minutes than Cody McCormick. A player like Tropp could allow Ruff to have more flexibility in his lineup while not losing the grit or physicality that McCormick would bring to the table.

Thumbs Up: Tropp's overall play was a nice surprise from this last season. HIs 8 points (3 G, 5 A) were not top line minutes, but his 0.235 Pts/gm scoring rate was greater than Pat Kaleta and Cody McCormick.

Thumbs Down: Corey could fill in on any fourth line in the NHL, but his type of player seems to be a career fringe player. In other words, he could play top line minutes in the AHL, or fourth line minutes in the NHL. Tropp's style of play makes the McCormick contract look especially poor, since it seems that what Cody can do for this team can be done by an array of players within the minor leagues. I understand the McCormick contract was developed after a solid 8 goal, 12 assist campaign, but I wonder if we could not get 20 points from a player like Tropp on a year to year basis.

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