2015 Sabres Top 25 Under 25: #6 Zemgus Girgensons
Girgensons is a fan favorite and possible future captain of the Buffalo Sabres. The fact that they have five guys more valuable is quite the luxury.
Weight: 190 lbs.
2014-15 team: Buffalo
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (14th overall) in the 2012 draft
Last year's ranking: 3
The Latvian Locomotive was the Sabres only All Star last season. Although he was boosted by the voting fervor from both Buffalo and Latvian fans, he was likely the most worthy member of the team at the time. He may never be a superstar, but it's an incredibly good sign of depth that he likely will be their third line center going forward.
The big question with Girgensons has always been how much can be actually score. He's a physical player, and definite captain material, but if he can only score eight goals he isn't much better than many bottom six forwards.
Those worries wre dispelled this season, as he scored 15 goals in an injury-shortened 61 game season. He showed the Sabres that he's got some nice mitts, deking out players like he did the year prior against Detroit on a more consistent basis. He centered the Sabres top line, which was the only one to be somewhat effective. He trailed only Matt Moulson in points-per-game (minimum of 60 games played).
Having a player like Girgensons gives the Sabres added flexibility. He won't be ahead of Jack Eichel or Sam Reinhart on the depth chart longterm. At the end of last season, it was fair to say that Girgensons could return as the top line center to ease in Eichel, but Ryan O'Reilly likely has that position. So Zemgus finds himself on the third line, injecting much needed offensive ability. The Sabres now can roll three lines, possibly placing players like Brian Gionta, Jamie McGinn and Marcus Foligno alongside Girgensons. That's a line that can produce a bit better than the third line of Hodgson - Varone - Schaller that ended last season.