Marco Scandella is looking to continue to improve as a defenseman in his second season with the Buffalo Sabres.
Marco Scandella joined the Buffalo Sabres last season after spending 7 seasons with the Minnesota Wild. The 28 year old defenseman was drafted higher than expected by the Wild out of Val d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL in the second round of the 2008 NHL draft.
Scandella bounced back and forth between the Wild and the Houston Aeros of the AHL during his first 3 years in the league before becoming a full time member of the Wild defense in 2013-14. From there came 4 straight 70 plus game seasons for Scandella in which he peaked with 11 goals and 12 assists in the 2014-15 season.
Scandella regressed in his last year in Minnesota though. Scandella found himself skating primarily with the third defense paring with little time on the power play. Scandella also had his lowest point total and average time on the ice compared to his other full time seasons in Minnesota.
His biggest shortcomings were on offense though and he continued to be a solid, physical defenseman. Scandella remained one of the Wild’s top 4 defenseman on the penalty kill and he had a strong playoffs. Scandella was a top 4 defenseman in the Wild’s first round series loss to the St. Louis Blues.
That being said, the Wild had Ryan Suter, Matt Dumba, Jared Spurgeon, and Jonas Brodin coming back as their top 4 defenseman coming in to last season and with Scandella’s salary of $4 million/year, the Wild traded Scandella along with Jason Pominville and a fourth round pick in the 2018 NHL draft for Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, and a third round pick in the 2018 NHL draft.
Marco Scandella was a part of Buffalo’s most consistent defense pairing, as he and Rasmus Ristolainen were on the ice almost 6 times as much as any other Sabres defensive pairing at even strength. Scandella also played in all 82 games, led all defenseman in time on the ice at even strength on the penalty kill, and was the team’s number two defenseman on the power play.
As we know, the Buffalo Sabres struggled both in terms of goals scored and goals allowed last season and Scandella was not a strong contributor to either category. His GF/60 (goals scored by the team when he is on the ice) was a little below the team’s average and his GA/60 (goals allowed by the team when he is on the ice) is a little higher than the team’s average. That being said his 22 points were the second highest total of his career so he at least bounced back offensively.
With the addition of 2018 first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, expectations are the Sabres defense will improve this season. With Dahlin in place, the top 4 defenseman will be Scandella, Dahlin, Ristolainen, and Zach Bogosian.
The challenge for Phil Housley will be how to set up the defense pairings to start the season. For continuity sake, keeping Scandella and Ristolainen together may be the safest way to start the year. The Sabres may also want to ease Dahlin into matching up against the top lines in the league, similar to the strategy Florida used during Aaron Ekblad‘s rookie season, a year which we ended up winning the Calder Trophy.
The Sabres will not be looking for Scandella to put up big numbers offensively but he will need to improve on the defensive side of the puck. It is safe to say that Scandella will continue to see strong minutes on the penalty kill even if his power play minutes decline.
All statistics are from corsicahockey.com, hockey-reference.com, and naturalstattrick.com.
Where do you think Marco Scandella will fit in with the Buffalo Sabres’ defense core? Let us know in the comment section below.