The season is over, and we’re going to rate every player who played more than 20 games this season on their performance the same way we were all graded back in the day - on a report card scale of A to F. We’re taking a look at everyone from Bailey to Rodrigues in our 2016-17 Buffalo Sabres Report Cards.
Contract: Cap hit of $650,000, signed through 2017-18 season.
Introduction: Justin Falk was brought to Buffalo initially as a depth defenseman, a guy who could help provide experience in Rochester and help the Sabres out when necessary. However, thanks to injuries and lack of competent defensemen in Buffalo, Falk soon became a regular in Buffalo, and a guy who contributed steady, if unremarkable play to the back end.
Key Stat: Falk was one of just five Sabres players who played more than 20 games this season to have a positive Corsi number, finishing the year at 50.68, good for fourth-best on the team. Not bad for an “AHL guy”.
Thumbs Up: Falk uses his 6’5’’ frame to his advantage when on the ice, both in puck battles along the boards and in controlling the play in his own end. He is one of the better shot blockers and hitters on the team, ranking in the top seven in both categories, and his -3 was the second best +/- among defensemen this season. While his play might not be flashy, it is consistent, and considering how the Sabres blue line played last year, that’s a stand-out attribute.
Thumbs Down: The problem with Falk’s consistently unremarkable play is that it doesn’t come with any offense or special teams. He scored just eight points all year, all assists, and did not play on either the power play or penalty kill. So while he was a solid contributor on the third pairing last season, there’s really no upside to having him your lineup if your only requirement to start is, “Not a dumpster fire.”
Falk was signed to a one-year, one-way extension midway through the year not only as a reward for his consistent play, but also to give the Sabres some flexibility in the expansion draft. I doubt Las Vegas is thinking of taking Falk, but if he’s serving as Buffalo’s 7th defenseman next year, that’s a decent emergency policy to have on the roster.
Memorable Moment: My favorite Falk moment this year involves him as the third man - Robin Lehner and Alex Burrows of the Canucks got into a tussle early on in a February match up, and Falk came in to protect his goalie and used the Madden truck stick on Burrows. Check out the video at 1:06.
Voting: Using the good old grade school system of A, B, C, D, F, with a grade of A representing a great season, a grade of C being the performance you expected, and F a very poor season, rate Justin Falk on his performance this year.
Grade Justin Falk on his 2016-17 season.
This poll is closed