Thursday, May 12, 2016

Impressions of, and questions concerning--F, Tyler Ennis

Reprinted with permission from

Forward--Tyler Ennis
DOB:  October 6, 1989 (age, 26)
Draft:  2008, 26th overall
How acquired:  Drafted by Buffalo
Last contract signed:  2014--5 yr./$23M
Final year of contract:  2018-19

2015-16 Stats:  23 games, 3 goals, 8 assists, 11 points, -9

What we wrote preseason:  "During Ennis' pro tenure, the Sabres franchise has gone through a multitude of changes from ownership to GM to coaches, but he's always managed to keep an even keel. He's had an array of linemates and was moved back and forth from center to wing, yet has maintained steady production:

 --three 20-goal seasons including the previous two seasons when the Sabres challenged the modern mark for scoring futility.
--his 89 goals in 345 games averages out to 21 goals/82 games
--he also tallied 123 assists in 345 games averaging 29 assists/82 games
--that 21 goals and 29 assist average is just about where he ended his rookie season
"Is he a true top-line forward? The books still out on that. But the "greazy" forward who's proven non-believers wrong throughout his career has, in the very least, solidified his status as a top-six forward."
What we wrote mid-season:  "was having some troubles before he went down with an injury. Kid can weave in and out of a defense, stickhandle in a phone booth and put the puck in the net. When he's on he can work some magic, when he's off, which has been most of the year, he's doin' a whole lotta choppin' with no chips flyin'."
Impressions on his play this year:  Ennis didn't have the opportunity to send any chips flyin' as he was felled by his second injury of the season, a concussion from an Alexander Ovechkin check on December 30 that put him out for the rest of the season. Ennis was on a 14-game goal-drought at the time. Interesting thoughts from Sabres GM Tim Murray last when he talked about Ennis to the gathered media at First Niagara Center (via Bill Hoppe,) “Maybe [the time away] makes him a better player,” said the GM. “Maybe this makes him a harder worker."

It was the second time Murray mentioned that a player needed to pay a little more attention to the new agenda. The other was Matt Moulson. Ennis, Moulson and Zemgus Girgensons were three of the Sabres top-4 points producers last season, all had a difficult time adjusting to new head coach Dan Bylsma's system and all incurred a precipitous drop in production this past season with Ennis only playing in 23 games.

Questions moving forward:  Will he be returning to the lineup 100% healthy after suffering two concussions in one season? How will the injuries affect his confidence? Can his predominantly east/west game be woven into the Sabres north/south preferences? Can he help anchor the right-side in a top-six role? How much room is there for him on the top powerplay unit? Was it work-ethic, demeanor or both that caused him to languish in Bylsma's system early on? As a talented, valuable piece with a reasonable cap-hit could he be used to help land the left-handed defenseman Murray's looking for? Has he plateaued? Or can he bump it up a notch to land in the 25-goal/55-point club?

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