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Grading the Sabres: Defensemen part one

May 4, 2012

My report card for the Sabres defensemen will be split into two five-man groups. Alexander Sulzer and Mike Weber will be in the second group with a trio of prospects. The first group will be the top five, if you will.

Tyler Myers – B

Overall, it was a decent season for the big man. There were times that he still looked lost defensively, but it was fairly obvious that he is a big part of Buffalo’s transition game. His absence often crippled Buffalo’s ability to move the puck and enter the zone.

I actually think there were some stretches that Myers was especially effective in his own zone, showing that two-way game that so many people are waiting to see develop. A healthy Tyler Myers is important for the Sabres. However, based on the last two years, a proper offseason program is what is important for Myers.

Christian Ehrhoff – A

When the Sabres signed Ehrhoff, I was ecstatic. Even though he didn’t go out and score goals like Bobby Orr, Ehrhoff was a very effective member of the Sabres blueline. In fact, he was their most consistent defenseman for the entire year.

While his goal scoring was down, he led all Buffalo defensemen in points, which is what he was brought here to do. What was unexpected was how great he was defensively. If the coaching staff would build their powerplay to better suit Ehrhoff, I think you would see his numbers increase.

Robyn Regehr – B+

Regehr’s plus/minus is rather deceiving. If you just look at stats, you would probably think he had a bad year. However, he was far and away Buffalo’s best asset in the defensive zone. Regehr was also the most physical defenseman as well. He will catch a bad wrap for his numbers, just know that an eye test would prove his worth more than those stats.

While I think Regehr is beginning to slow as he ages, I think he was a necessary piece to add and I wonder if the Sabres hope he will rub off on young Brayden McNabb?

Jordan Leopold – B+

Another great year for what may end up being on of Darcy Regier’s greatest free agent signings. Leopold hit the 10-goal plateau and put up big minutes throughout the year. I think Ehrhoff was a more quality contributor throughout the year, but Leopold was a force in his own right. At one point during the year, Leopold was Buffalo’s best defenseman.

I do wonder if Leopold’s production could make him a trade target in the summer. I don’t think Ruff or Regier wants to see him go, but he could potentially fetch a nice return.

Andrej Sekera – B

Sekera was well on his way to the best season of his professional career before the train wreck that was his final three weeks. For some reason, Sekera went from a balanced and consistent defender to a defensive zone tire fire in the blink of an eye. That doesn’t mean the excellent hockey he played previously is to be ignored, just that things unraveled and unraveled fast.

I would like to see Sekera get more time on the power play, he is a pretty good offensive weapon, but he is rarely used that way.  A little more time may help him on the score sheet and in the eyes of the fan base.

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