Buffalo Sabres Preseason: The Case Against Tyler Ennis

Buffalo Sabres fans, I’m not a big guy.  Standing somewhere between 5’7″ and 5’8″, depending on what kind of shoes I’m wearing, I can pass through the halls of the high school at which I teach and be confused for a student fairly easily, as long as it’s casual Friday and I’m wearing a hat to cover up the fairly noticeable (translation: huge) bald spot on the top of my head.

Suffice it to say, I sympathize with under-sized athletes, and usually root for these under-sized under-dogs to prove everybody who says they can’t play the game wrong.

Which makes my argument today against the Buffalo Sabres re-signing Tyler Ennis a painful one to make.

Sep 17, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Tyler Ennis (63) skates with the puck as Columbus Blue Jackets defensemen Fedor Tyutin (51) and Jack Johnson (7) chase during the third period at Nationwide Arena. The Sabres won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

What does Ennis have going for him?  Well, he was the third-highest scorer on the Sabres last year, with 10-21-31.   He’s pretty fast, he skates well, and he’s brave, all of which are desirable qualities.  He autographed some stuff for my kid once, so I guess he’s got that going for him.  Lemme see, what else can I say about him . . . hmmmm . . . .

On to the reasons I would have serious reservations about the Sabres signing him to a long-term contract.  The first is the most obvious: his size.  Ennis has already had one season cut virtually in half due to injuries (2011-2012, when he played only 48 games due to an ankle sprain), and a player his size will always have more reason to be concerned about injuries than some of the larger players, partly because everyone is going to want to take a run at the 5’9″ guy coming down ice.  Do the Buffalo Sabres really want to make a long-term investment in a guy who almost certainly is going to battle the injury bug numerous times in his career?  I suppose they might, if he was fierce enough to win a lot of battles up against the boards . . . but since he doesn’t . . . next question!

For the sake of argument, let’s say the Sabres are not too worried about Ennis getting injured; after all, every player gets injured at multiple points throughout their career.  Let’s just look at what Ennis brings to the Sabres on game day.  He’s an okay scorer, but a defensive liability on every shift.  If I’m going to commit big dollars to keep this guy in a Sabres sweater for 4-5 years, I better get a GREAT scorer for someone who is fairly useless on defense.   Look: Martin St. Louis is 5’8″.  He’s not a great defender, by any stretch of the imagination.  However, he’s been good for 60+ points a year throughout his career.  (Obviously, he’s been good for far more than 60 in a number of seasons.  Hell, he had 60 last year, in only 48 games!)    Usually, St. Louis’ line scores more goals than it allows, as his career +/- of +12 will tell you.  So far, that’s not the case with Ennis (although his career +/- is still heavily influenced by last year’s -14).  Will Ennis ever become a consistent 60+ points a year producer?   Eh . . . next question, please!

Apr. 14, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle (25) tries to block a shot by Buffalo Sabres left wing Tyler Ennis (63) during the second period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

I know it’s probably not fair to compare Ennis with a future Hall-of-Famer such as as St. Louis.  Still, you don’t want there to be a precipitous drop-off in production between your first line and your second, and last year, there certainly was.  How hard do you want your first line to have to work, in order to keep the second line from just giving it all back to the opposition?

And don’t even get me started on his usefulness on the power play.  Two PP goals last season, Tyler?  That’s only two better than my total.

I have nothing against Tyler Ennis; I like his feisty play and am tempted to say that he is going to step up his level of play this year and make a serious run for 60 points, especialy if the Sabres stop trying to make him a center and shift him back over to the wings.  If he does that, I’ll be the first one in cyber space to congratulate him.  Unless he has that sort of barn-burning year, however – and there’s been nothing this preseason to suggest that he will – I would argue that it is time for the Sabres to shop him, or let him walk if there are no takers.  The Buffalo Sabres cannot afford to have their second line counteract their first line as badly as it did last year, and since the team has enough young prospects who have played great on the second line, I think the odds are pretty good that Ennis will not be a Sabre this time next year.

Agree? Disagree? Think ill of me?  Please leave your comments below, or harass me on Twitter @theamazingMrS.  

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Tyler Ennis

Want more from Sabre Noise?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • erico

    i say if we sign him for a decent price id love to keep him. He seems to be doing a good job being larssons lw.

  • lamarred1118

    Unless he and Stafford have phenomenal years, I’d say they are trade bait, so lets hope they don’t bomb this year.

  • davidmuscalo

    I think you are quite generous in assigning St. Louis a height of 5′ 8″. Oh, I see, that’s with skates on (LOL). As for Ennis, I think he could become a 60 point man if he changed his skating style – in my opinion, he loses to much energy in sideways motion with his water-bug style. I too do not see him wearing a Sabres sweater next season. As for size, I am Gerbe’s size and at that height, it is very difficult to compete in any sport that requires physical volume. One thing have learned though is that size matters, but not as much as leverage and intellegence.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      You’re right: size isn’t everything. Still, Ennis better hope he builds an aura of respect around the NHL like someone such as St. Louis has, or else everyone is going to want to plow him into the boards!

  • Kevin

    Give Ennis the same talent St Louis had throughout his career to play alongside and who knows what we would we’d be saying about him. Sure it’s EASY to say Ennis is no St. Louis and at this point your right, however, is it his fault he didn’t have Brad Richards and Vinny Lecavelier (sp) to help his career excel?

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I know – it’s not 100% fair to make that comparison. I don’t dislike Ennis, but since he can’t defend, he darn well better make up for that in scoring. He doesn’t – not enough, anyway. For crying out loud, he can’t even score in a shootout – not once last year (in games I watched, which was a lot) did he pot one in a shootout. I’m just not convinced he has a knack for scoring.

  • qwicwted

    I think I am torn on this – I take a look at someone like Larsson who is 5’10″, 200 lbs, can play both wings, offensively and on the PK – I would rather invest in someone like him. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ennis, but I think he and Stafford both need to step up this year. The thing with Ennis is that he is only 23, but he needs to still work on some areas of his game. Perhaps going back to the wing will increase his scoring ability. I guess my thinking is, if he is needed for trade bait why not?

  • chas territo

    Ennis is a fan favorite. Having said that, cut him. He has many flaws, his size is definitely a factor in cutting HIM/TRADE for a bigger player .Are we not tired of the small guys being pushed around? As far as his fearlessness, having watched him play, I must ask WHAT FEARLESSNESS? Sure he is feisty, but that Don’t make him brave by any stretch. All he is is a pest, not like Kaleta, but still a pest. I do not want him on our team! There, I said it.

  • erico

    Our lineup when healthy…
    vanek-hodgson-armia
    foligno-grigorenko-leino
    ennis-larsson-stafford
    ott-mccormick-kaleta

    Ott is better than a 4th liner so if he stays guys are going to have to be moved. Stafford and Ennis are the odd men out. They are going to be moved

TEAMFeed More Sabres news from the Fansided Network

Hot on the Web From golf.com