Contract: Signed through 2014-15 at $625,000
Report Card Grade in 2013: B (link)
Introduction: The Massachusetts native came out of nowhere last year to make the Sabres roster (okay, he was captain at the University of Maine, not quite nowhere). He pretty much matched his 2012-13 output with the Sabres, which is good news. The bad news is that it took him three times as many games to do that. However, he is one of the few centers on this poor team and has a decent enough faceoff win percentage at 47.3%, better than the true centers Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons.
While last season we weren't sure where exactly in the four ranks of forwards Flynn would fit in, this season made it quite clear that he shouldn't be more than a fourth liner in the NHL. His zone start percentages were pretty evenly distributed, and he was a mainstay on the penalty killing group. The Sabres ended up 20th among all teams in PK% with 81.4%.
Key Stat: Flynn clocked 40% of the team's shorthanded ice time. This was highest among forwards not named Steve Ott, who led all forwards and defensemen with 44.7%.
Thumbs Up: The right-handed center is a tenacious and gritty player that the Sabres like to have in the bottom six. While he doesn't rack up the hits (less than one a game) or the shots (under 1.5 shots per game), he does use his 6'1", 180lb frame to get into the corners and do the dirty work. Was one of the least penalized players on the team, and finished the season with the second best +/- of any player who played more than half the season.
Thumbs Down: On a team desperate for scoring, there are too many Brian Flynn lookalikes. Worth keeping around for continued use on the bottom six as his contract is cheap enough, but easy enough to replace as well. Might end up as Matt Ellis v2.0. Received relatively easy minutes in terms of quality of competition and offensive zone starts, and had below-average Corsi numbers, even for this team.
Memorable Moment: Flynn enjoyed a bit of a purple patch at the end of February when he scored a pretty goal against the Boston Bruins and followed it up next game with another one against the San Jose Sharks.
The MA-born player quite enjoyed going up against Chad Johnson of the Bruins, having scored his sole shortie of the season on him as well earlier in the season.
Voting: We're grading on a curve this year, adjusting for the Sabres organizational ineptitude. So, using the good old grade school system of A, B, C, D, F, with A representing a great season (for the Sabres) C an average season, and F a very poor season (again, for the worst team in the league) grade Brian Flynn on his performance this year.