It really is getting harder and harder to get the nerve to sit in front of the computer and write about the Buffalo Sabres. To avoid sinking even deeper into this morass of depression, and then proceeding to wallow in it further by sharing sorrows on the instant-messaging-gone-viral juggernaut that is Twitter, I will instead speak of the future. The future Sabres might be good, and might not be good. I would like to believe they will, but that's just me. After all, it was not so long ago that Messrs. Vanek, Miller, Pominville, Roy, et al. were call-ups from Rochester themselves and we were filled with all sorts of good hope.
Of the few positives this season, one has been getting some extended looks at the future Sabres as injuries led to promotions galore from the Amerks. While Zack Kassian and Brayden McNabb have been garnering the majority of the attention, blueliner TJ Brennan has tended to slip under the radar a bit.
The 22-yr old Brennan came out of the relative obscurity of the AtJHL to tryout with and make the squad on the St. John's Fog Devils (QMJHL) where he went on to win the defensive Rookie of the Year award. He was the first pick in the 2nd round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft on the basis of his strong offensive showings, and was drafted as part of the Sabres stable of puck-moving defensemen. Standing at 6'1", the 214lb Brennan is not shy with finishing his checks, and does not hesitate to shoot when afforded the opportunity.
In his last two years with the Portland Pirates in the AHL he racked up 23 and 39 points, and has 7G & 10A in 29 games with the Amerks this year. Earlier in his career Brennan played an out-and-out offensive game and even suited up as forward for a short period of time at the Pirates, but has tended to concentrate more on his defensive zone play in recent times.
The NJ-born Brennan has played six games for the Sabres, with just one goal - Lindy Ruff hasn't given much playing time and he has averaged 14:22 ice time in those games. He has a +/- rating of 0, one of the few Sabres d-men not buried neck-deep in negative hell. In the few games we have seen him play, he has displayed poise in his own zone when bringing out the puck, even under strong forechecking pressure, and not shown the penchant for giving away the puck that seems to plague more than half of this team.
A left-handed shot, Brennan throws a mean right hook and is good for a couple of fights every season. He uses his size well both while pinching forward and blocking out in his own defensive zone. He has thrown 14 hits in the 6 games, four more than the much-maligned Marc-Andre Gragnani who has played in 39 contests. While there is still room for improvement in clearing the zone and holding the blue line, the Sabres have on their hands a player who could easily become a solid second-pairing blueliner. His three-year entry level deal is up at the end of this season and I expect the Sabres will lock him up with a long term deal before he becomes a restricted free agent.