With their season over and after a few days to collect our thoughts, it's time to recap the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres season. Let's start with what went right.
The emergence of Tyler Ennis. We may look back in a few years, and decide that the coming out party for the small center with crazy play making skills was the best thing to come out of this season (Note: Philly fans are nodding their heads thinking about Claude Giroux.) Ennis was a monster after coming back from injury, sparking the Sabres huge run to close the season out and reviving Drew Stafford's corpse along the way. Of course, the big if with Ennis will always be his health, but if he can stay on the ice next season, the Sabres may finally have that #1 center they so desire.
It was an excellent season for Darcy Regier (with one exception.) Rather than recap what Darcy accomplished this season, here's a list of assets lost and assets gained, in no particular order.
Assets lost: Zack Kassian, Paul Gaustad, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Chris Butler, Paul Byron, a 4th round pick.
Assets gained: Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr, Cody Hodgson, Alexander Sulzer, Ville Leino, Ales Kotalik, Nashville's 1st round pick, Calgary's 2nd round pick
When you look at it that way, it sure seems like a good year for the man upstairs.
Tyler Myers gets mean. Myers has spent his entire pro career being compared to Zdeno Chara and Chris Ponger, solely because of his towering stature. But one thing those guys had that Myers didn't was that they played with a mean streak. These were nasty dudes to play against every time they were on the ice, and after showing flashes of a mean streak last season, this year Myers showed that he can play like that on a consistent basis. He continues to learn how to use his body to his advantage, was far more willing to finish checks this year (and lay some monster hits, too) and even got in his first fight as a pro. Adding this mean streak to guy with his offensive skill will make the next seven years in Buffalo a lot of fun, unless you're an opposing forward.
Foligno and McNabb look good. I mean really good. HEY EVERYBODY, COME SEE HOW GOOD THESE GUYS LOOK! Both of these young players stepped in and played well, considering it was their first professional season in wither the AHL or NHL. Foligno showed a surprising scoring touch to go along with his size, and McNabb seems like Robyn Regehr's younger brother, who looks a bit more for the big hit. With these two players fighting for starting roster spots next year, the Sabres just became tougher to ply against (but please don't use that as your excuse for doing nothing, Darcy.)
Pominville responded to the pressure of captaincy. You can't argue that Jason Pominville had a great season as captain, at least as far as points are concerned. Pommers finished 19th in the NHL in points, with 30 goals and 43 assists for 73 total, his second best campaign ever. He was the Sabres most consistent scorer, being the only player to play in every game, and was a monster at the FNC, scoring 46 points in 41 games at home - good for 5th in the NHL in that category. Will he regress next season? Possibly, but I certainly enjoyed watching him during this one.
Contrary to the way we feel, there were some good things to happen this year. Have some thoughts of your own? Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments.