Total Season Stats: 63 GP | 6 G | 7 A | 13 PTS
Contract Status: One-year, $4 million cap hit
When Marco Scandella came to Buffalo in the 2017-18 season, expectations for the defender were fairly high. He was a solid second pair blueliner for the Minnesota Wild, and was brought here to be a veteran presence for an increasingly young defensive unit.
He averaged over 23 minutes a night that season, and his performance was largely average. He wasn’t the worst player on the worst team in the league. Perhaps fans expected more, but...they were the worst team in the league. Everyone was bad.
I’d love to tell you things got better for the 29-year old Canadian, but it’s just not true. Scandella saw six minutes a game carved from his ice time. He spent nights in the press box - perhaps fewer than he deserved, but after playing in all 82 games last season, it certainly isn’t what you’d like to see.
On the scoreboard, not much changed for Scandella. His .70 points per 60 is in line with his usual production. His PDO shifted upward slightly, as did the on-ice save percentage.
Little things changed in his game that give context to his diminished time. He was on the ice for 50 even strength goals against - 25 percent of the 200 total goals 5-on-5 goals against for the Sabres. The team scored only 36 goals-for on Scandella’s shifts; an even strength goals-for percentage of only 41.9. This comes in a season where Buffalo scored more goals per game. Even with the downgrade, it seems that Scandella should have been able to contribute more.
In addition, his shots on goal were halved from last season. Yes, he played fewer minutes, and yes, he played fewer games, but steep drops in both relative corsi and fenwick-for demonstrate how off the aging blueliner’s season actually was.
Scandella’s usage was a persistent mystery throughout the year. Analysts questioned the decision-making of former head coach Phil Housley as young players that consistently outplayed Scandella were benched in favor of the floundering veteran. It was especially odd as the season wore on and it became increasingly evident that Buffalo would miss the playoffs. With two seasons of his mediocre at best (sub-subpar at worst) performances, what was he really going to prove? Get a look at the kids and give Scandella some time to work out whatever was plaguing him all season - whether it was physically or mentally, he was not OK.
It will be interesting to see where he slots in next season. With a new coach coming in, who knows what Scandella’s usage might look like next year. Will the team move Rasmus Ristolainen? If they did, and didn’t pick up another defender, they’d almost need Scandella. What if the new coach like Risto? Would Scandella break the top six?
Season Grade: D
What grade would you give Marco Scandella?
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