Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Impressions of, and questions concerning--F, Evan Rodrigues

Published by hockeybuzz.com, 4-23-2018

Forward--Evan Rodrigues
DOB:  July 28, 1993 (Age, 24)
Draft:  Undrafted
How acquired: 
Signed by Buffalo April 22, 2015
Last contract signed:  July 27, 2017, 2yr./$1.3 million
Final year of contract:  2018-19

2017-18- Stats:  48 games played | 7 goals | 18 assists | 25 points | -10 | 13:56 ATOI

Buffalo Career Stats:  80 games | 12 goals | 21 assists | 33 points | -15 | 13:30 ATOI

What we wrote preseason:  "Although a tad small at 5'10" 183 lbs., the 24 yr. old native of Toronto, Canada has displayed the hockey smarts, skating and skills to make it in the NHL while his shot may keep him climbing up the ladder on the depth chart. His versatility won't hurt either.

"(last season) Rodrigues played 30 games for the Sabres in a bottom six role scoring four goals and adding two assists while averaging 12:56 of ice-time. And he did so while playing both center and wing, sometimes within the same game. With obvious weakness on the Sabres left side, there's a huge opportunity for Rodrigues to land a spot at left wing in Buffalo if that's where new head coach Phil Housley sees a fit for him.

"Rodrigues is a player that skates very well, has the hockey sense to get to open ice or find a teammate in open ice and has a quick and accurate shot while also showing the versatility to play wing or center. About the only thing Rodrigues doesn't have is loads of NHL experience, which he seems to have earned while working his way up the ranks in Rochester."

What we wrote mid-season:  "Rodrigues is another player who helped solidify the top-nine for Housley as he gives the Sabres a strong top-three down the middle. In six games Rodrigues has three points (2+1) but it's the way he approaches the game which makes a difference. Rodrigues is in constant motion on the ice and his play without the puck has put him in favorable on-ice situations. Although he's always played that way, it's good to see that he fit right in with the Amerks after returning from injury and that the style he's accustomed to playing is transferring to Buffalo."

Impressions on his play this year:  Simply put, he looked much better at center than he did on the wing. Rodrigues wasn't bad playing on the left side as he moved up and down the lineup, but his skating ability, smarts, positioning and stick work made him more of a factor covering the middle of the ice. He recovered well from an injury that put the kibosh on his early-season NHL development dominated for a quick stint with Rochester (five goals and five assists in eight games) and was back up with Buffalo. Although not eye-popping, Rodrigues had good numbers on a last place team with a coach that moved him all over the place during his 48 games.

Questions moving forward:  Is GM Jason Botterill comfortable enough with a center trio of Jack Eichel/Casey Mittelstadt/Rodrigues to move Ryan O'Reilly? If not, who moves to the wing, Mittelstadt or Rodrigues? If moved to wing, will he get a shot on Eichel's wing? Is doubling his production in a full NHL season asking too much of him?

Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via sabres.com and hockey reference.com.

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