Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Zemgus Girgensons: Buffalo Sabres Future First Line Centre?


Ted Nolan and Tim Murray have spoken, and now the process of transforming Zemgus Girgensons from a winger into a centre shall begin. For the Latvian Olympic team Girgensons will play centre, however, Nolan said today this move is for the future not just the Olympics.

Zemgus Girgensons is a natural centre and the Buffalo Sabres drafted him 14th in 2012 to be their 3rd line centre behind

Mikhail Grigorenko. In order to give Girgensons some time to adjust to the NHL they brought him up to play on the wing and he’s been playing alongside Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson. While he’s been performing well on the wing, if you watch his game closely you can see him excelling as a centre.

Girgensons likes to fight hard for the puck in the corners, set his teammates up and oh yeah, hit people. With his large frame and toughness, centre seems to be the position for Girgensons. He’s a worker and on most team’s the centre is the hardest working guy on the ice.

The call to move Girgensons back to centre and develop him as a centre is coming from new GM Murray, as interim head coach Ted Nolan is the one who moved him to the wing initially.

Considering the Buffalo Sabres need for centre’s, if Girgensons takes well to the transition back to centre this could be one of Murray’s best moves. With Girgensons now a centre the Buffalo Sabres have Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Zemgus Girgensons and Zenon Konopka as their four centres. Not a horrible line-up.

In practice today Girgensons was centring the third line with Phil Varone and Brian Flynn, two great people to pair Girgensons with and a solid third line for the Buffalo Sabres moving forward. Flynn and Girgensons give it their all every shift, and Varone has been working hard since being called up.

With Girgensons now moved to centre, do you see any future with Girgensons being the Buffalo Sabres first line centre going forward? Imagine the Sabres top 3 centres, Cody Hodgson, Sam Reinhart/Bennett and Zemgus Girgensons, that sounds like a solid line-up the Sabres could win with. Now they need to add some solid wingers to support their centres and a number one goaltender.

Zemgus Girgensons will get his first shot at centre tomorrow night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and hopefully he can lead the team to victory and help win some face-offs. With the move of Girgensons, the Buffalo Sabres have three capable centres heading into next season and won’t need to overpay any free agents to fill the void.

Do you like the move?

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Zemgus Girgensons

  • Bruce

    The biggest challenge for Girgensons is that he needs to prove that he can score the puck. Nobody will ever question his work ethic. The door is certainly open to him becoming the top line center, because Cody Hodgson has some serious flaws in his defensive game, and Tyler Ennis’ future is a big question mark. However, I really think he is more in line to establish himself as a third line center just by the nature of his playing style.

    • Jes

      Agreed and well said. I think he’s got an outside chance of being a number two center but nothing more.

  • Jes

    The Gus Bus will never be a 1st line center. If Hodgson will not be considered a number one no way Girgensons ever does. He’s a 2nd line center at best, 3rd line center at this point though.

  • Dano

    I dont see Gus being a first line center. He can fill-in with first line players, but presently, he needs more time to find his game in the league.

    What Im shaking my head at is the ‘ wash ‘ we have between trading Kassian for Hodgson. Hodgson is a good player, not a first line center though. Kassian was a 3rd line grinder with size and the capability to shed the mitts ( a more utilitarian Kaleta so to say ). Buffalo made better in the trade but really didnt get everything they needed.

    I’m under the impression that Gus will develop into a solid player whom puts up 20 goals and probably 45-50 points a season when he finds his stride in 2 to 3 years. He was a good selection in the draft.

  • JHizzle75

    Looking forward to see that line play tomorrow night…I’ve been impressed with the play of Flynn, I like his hustle.
    From what I’ve seen of Varone I have liked, and Girgensons is just balls-out every second he’s on the ice. Every time I watch a game with friends the question comes up ” Who is #28??? He’s good!”
    I’m not sold on first line Center, though.
    I wouldn’t rule it out, either. Give Girgs a couple more seasons and I think he will surprise some people.

  • qwicwted

    I think we all forget how young he is and how far he has come. Yes, he plays ball-out when he is on the ice and I see him as being the Sabre’s Captain soon. Z is a hard worker and I can see him becoming a first line center a la Joe Thornton – we forget – this is his first year in the NHL and he’s playing for a “crappy” team.

  • jimbobv2

    If Girgensons is the Sabres #1 center, this team isn’t winning a cup.

    Girgensons’ offensive game will never get to legit #1 center levels. Girgensons will be a 2nd or a 3rd line center on a really good to great team.

    The dream scenario is McDavid on the 1st line, Reinhart on the 2nd, Girgensons on the 3rd, and Larsson on the 4th.