Monday, May 28, 2018

Impressions of, and questions concerning--D, Justin Falk

Published by, 5-27-2018

Defenseman--Justin Falk
DOB:  October 11, 1988 (Age, 29)
Draft:  2007, 4th round (110th-overall,) MIN
How acquired:  FA
Last contract signed:  February 5, 2017, 1yr./$650,000
Final year of contract:  2017-18

2017-18 Stats:  46 games played | 1 goal | 1 assist | 2 points | -16 | 16:05 ATOI

Buffalo Career Stats:  98 games | 1 goal | 9 assists | 10 points | -19 | 14:49 ATOI

What we wrote preseason:  Lost in the need to upgrade the defense was the really solid play of Falk last season. The stay-at-home d-man with decent wheels will more than likely be anchoring the defense in Rochester to help steady a group that will have many new faces.

What we wrote mid-season:  Falk, like Gorges, is more of a defensive defenseman and props to him for earning a spot on the Sabres roster. Prior to signing in Buffalo the 6'5" 223 lb. Falk had bounced from team to team and from league to league, but last year an opportunity came and he impressed. He continued on with a strong training camp but was injured and in 17 games since his return, Falk has done yeoman's work in a third-pairing role. Not sure what the future holds for him as the Sabres (hopefully) add more speed and skill to the back-end, but he'll always be reliable in his own zone.

Impressions on his play this year:  Lo and behold, Falk did not see Rochester this season. As mentioned above he had a good camp, was injured and when he came back forged himself a spot on the third pairing. Despite what looks like a horrid minus-16 plus/minus, Falk had his moments which of a run-in with Evander Kane at practice as the Sabres were  falling fast towards last place in the league.

"Shut the [expletive] up, you selfish [expletive],” yelled Falk at Kane after the star left-winger reportedly told Falk to watch his stick during a drill. Although it may be akin to former Sabres forward Paul Gaustad yelling at reporters not to step on the Sabres logo in the dressing room, a little anger and fight on a rather droll Sabres team was a welcome sight.

In another era Falk's size and willingness to physically clash with anyone on the opposition would be a be a welcome addition in a third-pairing/reserve role and he does skate rather well for a big player. However, with all due respect to him and his gritty, clear-the-crease-type game, if he's on Buffalo's third pairing this coming season the defense isn't anywhere near where it needs to be.

Questions moving forward:  Can he continue to forge out an NHL career or will he be a tweener who can mentor the youngins on defense at the AHL level? Is another one-year, $650,000 contract in Buffalo on the horizon? Or will it be somewhere else?

Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via and hockey

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