2015-16 Buffalo Sabres Grades: Zemgus Girgensons
The Buffalo Sabres 2015-16 season featured plenty of new faces that helped the team finally dig their way out of the league basement. We're grading everybody who played at least 20 games for the Sabres this year, from Bogosian to Ullmark.
Introduction: The third chapter of the legend of Zemgus was a bit less interesting than the first two. He was one of the biggest bright spots during the Sabres' tank years, showing some offensive dazzle and even earning an All-Star spot. He was on the Sabres' top line, getting plenty of opportunities to find the score sheet.
With the additions of Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel this season, Girgensons got moved down the depth chart. He's down to the third line at best, which seemed to seriously throw a wrench in his offensive output.
However, he got a bit more into a groove towards the end of the season, when Dan Bylsma put him alongside Brian Gionta and Marcus Foligno. He scored only two points in his first two months, but seven in his final two full months.
Key Stat: Girgensons played 888 minutes of ice time this season, which is 20 minutes more than the season before, although obviously in a more diminished role game-by-game. Despite a decrease in time-per-game, Girgensons still managed about the same six shots-per-60 average, while seeing his 5-on-5 goals and points-per-60 minutes drop to the lowest they've been in his young career.
Thumbs Up: Despite not lighting up the lamp nearly as often, Girgensons remains one of the Sabres' top defensive forwards. When you needed him out on the ice at the end of games, you could pretty much always trust him to do his job.
Thumbs down: The offensive upside the Sabres thought they found in Girgensons went away this year. He scored nearly half as many times as he did the year prior, when he played in 10 less games. It could make one worry about his future production on bottom lines, since with the talent the Sabres have brought in he is likely not going to make it back into the team's top six.
Memorable Moment: Girgensons' first goal of the season came in overtime, as he scored on the breakaway to give the Sabres a 4-3 victory against the Flyers.
Voting: 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, grade Brian Gionta on his performance this year.
Grade Zemgus Girgensons' 2015-16 season.