The Buffalo Sabres need scoring – but is the former 20+ goal scorer a shell of his old self, or will he regain his scoring touch in 2017?
Last week I whipped up my first projection of who the Buffalo Sabres should protect from the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft that will be used to form the Las Vegas Golden Knights’ roster.
When I wrote that piece, I chose to protect Tyler Ennis over William Carrier, which caused a few fans to question my sanity. Why would I protect a player who has only skated 45 games between last season and this one, over a young player like Carrier?
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Ask me this question in March, and I might have a different reply. Hell, I might have a different reply in just a few weeks, because it is not like I absolutely love Tyler Ennis in the first place.
But as of this point, Carrier has amassed all of 4 points (2-2-4) in his young career, compared to Ennis’ 93-132-225. A healthy Tyler Ennis gives the Sabres a 20-40 guy for another handful of seasons, and when you struggle to score as consistently as the Sabres have the past few seasons, you don’t just throw those points away for nothing.
No one wants to see the Buffalo Sabres lose quality players courtesy of the expansion draft, so if you are a fan of Mr. Carrier, I understand – Carrier might become a pretty good player in the NHL one day. However, I have a degree of loyalty when it comes to sports that many people do not share. Ennis had to endure his fair share of s****y years with the Buffalo Sabres, and spent three years among Buffalo’s top-3 in scoring. He put in his time, and if anyone on this current Sabres roster deserves to enjoy some playoff hockey in the 716, it is Ennis.
Obviously, if Ennis fails to stay healthy this season, or comes back and produces nada, he should be exposed to the expansion draft. I’m not going to give him a free pass based on what he has done in the past if he is unable to convince me that he still has some worth to this team. Since he is due to make his return this week, though, I am reserving final judgment until I see proof that he has no value to this organization.
Should Ennis return soon and spend the rest of the 201-17 relatively injury free, and produce somewhere between 20-30 points for the Buffalo Sabres, I would be in favor of protecting him from the expansion draft. Would losing Ennis to the Las Vegas Golden Knights free up some spending money for the Buffalo Sabres? It sure would. Do any of us feel confident in Ennis’ ability to remain healthy at this point of his career? Probably not – but I’m willing to take one last look at him before I ship him out West.