Mar 27, 2013; Sunrise, FL, USA

Do the Buffalo Sabres Keep Tyler Ennis or Nathan Gerbe?

After another long and disappointing season in Buffalo, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Sabres future. The Sabres once again failed to qualify for the NHL’s second and most competitive season, leaving the future of many veteran players unknown. With Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford likely gone this offseason and the Sabres entering a rebuilding phase, it’s the perfect time for management to look through the roster and weed out who doesn’t belong.

Mar 27, 2013; Sunrise, FL, USA

For a team that wanted to get bigger and tougher last offseason, Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis didn’t fit that mold. But they were

kept for their goal scoring abilities. Considering the 2013 “tough” Buffalo Sabres didn’t look so good, the team will be ditching that motto and heading in a different direction. The question becomes, do the Buffalo Sabres have room for both Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis? Gerbe burst onto the NHL scene in 2010, 5 years after the Sabres drafted the winger 142nd. He scored 16 goals and put up 31 points, not

all-star numbers but solid enough to earn Gerbe a spot on the third line. Last year saw his production plummet to just 6 goals and 25 points. People started questions why the Sabres need a 5 foot 5, third line winger who couldn’t score.This season has been another disappointment from the once prized prospect. He has just 5 goals and 10 points and has found himself demoted to the fourth line or in the press box most nights. He’s dropped behind Vanek, Ennis, Steve Ott and Marcus Foligno on the depth charts.

Tyler Ennis made his mark in 2010-2011 where he scored 20 goals and added 29 assists for 49 points. He was beat out for the Calder vote by teammate Tyler Myers, who also had his career year in 2010.

The Sabres drafted Ennis in the first round in 2008 and after his fantastic rookie season, he showed his skills and proved to be a player the Sabres could build around. Last season he battled an ankle injury which limited him to just 48 games but he still scored 15 goals and put up 34 points.

This season has seen a slight drop in production for Ennis who only has 10 goals but still is one of only 3 Sabres to have 30+ points. While his line from last season with Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford is no more, Ennis has spent time on the first, second and third line this season.

Both Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe are spark-plugs for the Sabres offence. They bring emotion, play with heart and battle for every loose puck on every shift. They’re the type of third line players that teams win the Stanley Cup with. The only problem is they’re both under 6 feet, play the same style of game and there isn’t room for both on a successful team.

While both bring energy and their own uniqueness to the Sabres, Tyler Ennis brings more to the table and is more valuable. While the future for him at centre with the Sabres may not be long term, with players like Grigorenko and Larsson coming into the mix, he can always move over to the wing.

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Having a player like Ennis who can play both wing and centre is extremely helpful. You can move him up and down the line-up to find

chemistry or add that extra scoring punch. Ennis isn’t overly expensive and is a valuable tool for the Sabres during this re-build. If Vanek does decide to stay, Ennis can provide a secondary scoring threat after the first line. Nathan Gerbe is a more one-dimensional player. He can’t jump in and play centre if needed and has been stuck on the fourth line. He’s an expendable player, although he may be nice to have- he’s dead weight for a team that is trying to make the playoffs.

Tyler Ennis is younger, can produce consistently and fit into any role the Sabres require him to play. Although he’s only 5 foot 9, he’s not afraid to mix it up with the opposition. While Tyler Ennis will never be a star first-line player, he’s the perfect player to build a team around and is just what the Sabres need during their re-build.


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