Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Impressions of, and questions concerning--F, Zemgus Girgensons

Published by, 5-1-2018

Forward--Zemgus Girgensons
DOB:  January 5, 1994
Draft:  2012 1st round (14th-overall)
How acquired:  Drafted by Buffalo
Last contract signed:  August 17, 2017, 2yr./$3.2 million
Final year of contract:  2018-19

2017-18 Stats:  71 games | 7 goals | 8 assists | 15 points | -12 | 13:43 ATOI
Buffalo Career Stats:  348 games | 44 goals | 57 assists | 101 points | -41 | 15:08 ATOI

What we wrote preseason:  Housley has given Girgensons first crack at landing a spot in the top-six on a wing with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo. Girgensons' trials and tribulations under former head coach Dan Bylsma have been well documented as had been his 15-goal season prior to Bylsma coming to Buffalo.

Girgensons has the will and desire to make a difference in the top-six, but any offensive acumen he may have had seemed to get lost under Bylsma. A golden opportunity is right in front of him, and the only question is, does he have enough offensive acumen to stick in that top-six role?

What we wrote mid-season:  Normally a player with only one goal and three assists in 28 games would be way down the list, but after being a healthy scratch, Housley gave Girgensons a shot in the top six and he's doing his part. The points still aren't there, and they may never be, but he's working the corners and is the net-front presence Housley wants him to be. The O'Reilly/Okposo/Girgensons line represents some big bodies that can skate pretty well and they have some chemistry, at least for now. Perhaps the bubble will burst and Girgensons will be in the bottom-six again, but for now his work up-top is one of the reasons Housley's able to roll three lines.

Impressions on his play this year:  Who knows what will happen with the "Latvian Locomotive" this off season. Girgensons had one good season of 15 goals and 15 assists in 61 games but has proven to be a single-digit goal-scorer who will take over 100 shots and hit on around 6.2%. It's been that way for the past three seasons.

Yet "Gus" is loved by many Buffalo fans. What he lacks in skill he brings in honest, hard-working play on a daily basis which is the antithesis of what we've seen from Sabres players who are far more talented. Girgensons and Larsson are almost interchangeable save that the latter spent nearly all of his time at center. Both are signed for one more season and this team really shouldn't be looking to keep both if they want to upgrade their bottom-six. One would be OK and of the two, Girgensons would probably be tradeable at this point for a mid-lower round pick for the right team.

Questions moving forward:  Will his reign as the longest continuously tenured Sabre remain intact this off season? Will his skill catch up enough with his will to get him into double-digit goals for the first time in four years? Is there a team another team that can use his grit and hard work moreso than Buffalo?

Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via and hockey

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