Saturday, September 3, 2016

$1.15M for Zemgus Girgensons would be a bargain

The Buffalo Sabres announced that free agent forward Zemgus Girgensons has been re-signed for 1 yr. As per Sabres policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Rumor has it that the price of the one-year contract is under $1.2M which would be a pretty good deal for Buffalo. The "Latvian Locomotive" was coming off of his entry-level deal where he was making about $1.3M, counting salary and bonuses, over the last three seasons and his extension and is commensurate with his rather poor production last season.

The one-year contract for that amount is a "show-me" deal for Girgensons as he's coming off of his worst of three professional seasons. He score only 18 points (7+11) in 71 games last season for the Sabres after notching 15 goals in 61 games the prior season. Throughout the 2015-16 campaign new head coach Dan Bylsma was having trouble integrating Girgensons into his system and there's been a lot of banter considering why "Gus" failed to put up even solid numbers last season. This season will probably represent the most critical season of his young career.

Girgensons is still only 21 years old and has just over 200 game of NHL experience under his belt. At 6'1" 203 lbs he has the size and there's no denying he has the work-ethic to make a difference on the ice. The numbers he produced last season, despite an influx of talent featuring Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel, were sub-par and probably was the main reason he was only re-upped for one season General Manager Tim Murray said of Girgensons after the signing (via Sabres PR,) "Zemgus has grown into a solid two-way player since beginning his career. We hope to see him continue this positive trend and find a consistent role within the club this season as another young player to grow with our group."

This is a good signing for Buffalo but how good will be determined by Bylsma finding a home for Girgensons to maximize his talents. There was plenty of speculation last season that Girgensons shortcomings were of his own design yet his off season may have been impacted by the Sabres no being able to find a home for him in the lineup. With this one-year deal, Buffalo will have the opportunity to get a good idea as to what was at he root of his sub-par performance and hopefully integrate him fully into Bylsma's system.

Look for the team to provide a top-nine opportunity, but. what he does with it is totally up to him.

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