Contract: Signed through 2015-16 at $894,167
Report Card grade in 2013: N/A
Introduction: Zemgus Girgensons participated in his rookie NHL season, amassing 22 points (8+14) and 14PIM in 70 games. Only of only nine Sabres to dress in both the first and last games of Buffalo’s season, "Gus" scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game @ DET (10.02.2013). He also had his first two-goal game in Buffalo against DET (04.08.2014).
Key Stat: Consistency was the name of Girgensons' game this year. He had almost exactly the same offensive production whether home or away, in wins or in losses, and in the first half of the year versus the second half. Check out his splits here and see for yourself.
Thumbs Up: It’s well-noted, well … everywhere: Girgensons is rather stubborn. When he sets his mind to do something, it’s going to get done. Teammates and media have all described him as being intense, but having a great sense of humor. He demonstrates a lot of drive to make himself worthy of those top-line minutes he was awarded this season as both he and this club mature.
As for how that translates on the stat sheet, it sees Girgensons earning penalty-kill time (and scoring a shorthanded goal) while racking up the fourth-most hits on the team and tying for tenth in blocked shots. He's above average in his possession numbers, and was one of the best forwards at both drawing and killing penalties. His effort is unquestionable, and has to literally be pulled off the ice and out of the weight room.
Thumbs Down: While it certainly improved during the season, Girgensons needs to keep working on his offensive game, and must keep learning to control his energy throughout the game. It would be nice to see more offensive production from him, or for him to get some time on the power play, but we're really nit picking here for what was a great season for such a young player.
Memorable Moment: Big Z's crazy goal through the Canadiens defense on Dec. 7 was hopefully a taste of greater things to come.
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 Zemgus Girgensons on his performance this year.