Friday, May 13, 2016

Impressions of, and questions concerning--D, Mark Pysyk

Reprinted with permission from

Defenseman--Mark Pysyk
DOB:  January 11, 1992 (age, 24)
Draft:  2010, 23rd overall
How acquired:  Drafted by Buffalo
Last contract signed:  2015--2yr./$2.25M
Final year of contract:  2016-17, RFA

2015-16 Stats:  55 games, 1 goal, 10 assists, 11 points, -1

What we wrote preseason:  "Of all the players mired in the muck that was the Buffalo Sabres last two seasons, defenseman Mark Pysyk was the one who got crapped on the most. But with that over and fading into memory, it's time for him to take his place in the Sabres top-six defense corps. It's safe to say that almost every Sabres fan thought Pysyk would be in the lineup last season, but he was a caught up in a crude game that included numbers, waivers, a preseason injury and an organizational focus on the long-term.

"Had the Sabres not signed Cody Franson this off season, it's probable that Pysyk would have been top-four but for now, he looks to be a #4/5 to at least start the year. Which is good in that the team can continue to develop him further while allowing him to gain confidence offensively. One of the things GM Tim Murray had wanted Pysyk to work on was jumping into the play more."

What we wrote mid-season:  "should simply be known as the quite one, as in he quietly goes about his business playing shutdown defense. Pysyk is also calm while smoothly getting the puck out of his zone under the most intense pressure. Reminds me of Bill Hajt, one of the most underrated Buffalo Sabres of all time. The Sabres would do real well moving forward with a shutdown d-man of that caliber."

Impressions on his play this year:  Pysyk seemed to have hit a wall in his development this season. Not that it was detrimental to his fundamental game, because he remained pretty solid in his own end while being deft with that first pass in his own zone. It would seem as if the key with him moving forward is if he can contribute more on the offensive side of things.

When GM Tim Murray sent him to Rochester in 2015 with the team in last place and a defense corps that had a few players on it Pysyk could have replaced, he wanted him to work on jumping into the  play more. Pysyk showed progress in Rochester that year and even showed spurts of it with Buffalo during the early part of last season. But it's quite possible they might want to see more in that respect and it could be the difference between the team seeing top-four minutes instead of defensive-minded lower-pairing minutes.

Questions moving forward:  Can he continue to grow from an offensive perspective while maintaining his solid play on defense? How much did those two bottom-feeding years in the Buffalo organization put a crimp on his development, if at all? How is he perceived by other GM's throughout the league? Is a new zip-code in the offing as this may possibly be his last RFA contract?

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