2015 2ITB End of Season Awards

The 2014-15 season was like no other in Sabres history as Buffalo’s rebuild plunged the team into another last place season as they pushed to secure the right to draft either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.

Media narratives on tanking and the need to pick first piled on game after game of poorly played hockey by a patchwork roster led by a lame duck coach. The season was capped by the Edmonton Oilers snatching the first overall pick with the Sabres guaranteed to slot in second in the draft order.

Such an odd season cannot be served by any run-of-the-mill awards post. So the fourth-annual 2ITB Awards will take on a slightly different look this year as we reflect back on a headache inducing run towards the end of the rebuild.

Most Valuable Player: Jonathan Toews – Toews heroics in the final minutes of Chicago’s 4-3 win erased an improbably Buffalo lead and snatched away a regulation win that would have brought the Sabres two points closer to 29th place. As it turns out, Captain Serious’ tallies were much needed as Buffalo didn’t ensure last place until the second last game of the year and the lottery results would have pushed them out of the second pick.

Least Valuable Player: Andre Benoit – I’m not sure there was any one player on the roster who was as consistently disappointing as Benoit was. He scored a nice shorthanded goal in a drubbing by the Red Wings but was generally bad the entire year. He certainly contributed to the tank but was a complete albatross in every other situation.

Best Prospect: Mark Pysyk – Pysyk has been a good solider for the Sabres since he was drafted. Tim Murray knew that the best place for Pysyk this year was likely to be Rochester despite Pysyk’s ability to excel at the NHL level. He’s poised to be a major piece of the puzzle in the near future and if his health issues clear up I think he’ll wind up playing a top-four role next year. Continue reading

Buffalo Sabres 2013 2ITB Awards

The 2ITB Awards made their debut last season after the Sabres’ playoff push fell short. After a disappointing season, here are my picks for some serious and not-so-serious team awards:

Most Valuable Player – Thomas Vanek

Atlas Vanek put the team on his back for most of the season. He and Ryan Miller performed at a high level for most of the year – although Miller’s numbers reflect that of a more average goaltender. Vanek’s contributions are more visible and he is certainly deserving of recognition on a team that would be dreadful offensively without his skillset. Here’s hoping he isn’t traded.

Least Valuable Player – Drew Stafford

Just a dismal year for #21. Stafford could never get the train on the tracks and has been largely invisible on many nights. He wears a letter to boot. To think that he makes $4 million a year is a cap crushing nightmare. I would assume he gets traded in the offseason, but that is no guarantee.

Top Prospect – Mark Pysyk

Looking at the body of work each Sabres prospect put together this season, Pysyk is probably the one to stand out the most. Just as 2011-12 winner Marcus Foligno put together a strong stretch run, Pysyk has set himself up very well for his first full NHL season for 2013-14. Continue reading

Inaugural 2ITB Sabres season awards

Since the 2011-12 campaign ended without a playoff berth, I have decided that the inaugural 2ITB Awards will have some real awards and some awards that are more worthy of a Dundie. If you don’t like the winners, leave a comment; perhaps you will get a vote for the second annual awards next spring. Here are the winners:

Most Valuable Player – Jason Pominville

In line with the players’ choice, Pominville is an easy choice on a team that did underachieve for portions of the season. I was happy to see him hit the 30-goal plateau, it was a well deserved accomplishment. Pominville embraced his captaincy this season and had a great year. I think consistent line mates could yield similar results in 2012-13.

Least Valuable Player – Brad Boyes

Boyes suffered through a miserable 82-game season with little to show for it. Sure he was stuck on the fourth line and had little chance to produce, but at $4M you can’t afford to be not scoring goals. I was happy to see him come to Buffalo, things just didn’t work out for him this year.

Top Prospect – Marcus Foligno

This was a tough one for me to pick. Foligno was right up there with Brayden McNabb, David Leggio and Joel Armia for the organizational award. However, Foligno’s arrival was such a shot in the arm for the Sabres that it was too difficult to ignore.

Jekyll and Hyde Award – Ryan Miller

It is actually pretty easy to sum up Ryan Miller’s season. Elite hockey, then garbage hockey and then more elite hockey. Sounds like a pretty decent sandwich, no? October was kind to the netminder before suffering a rough start against Philly on national television. He followed that game with a five-goal win against the Jets. His GAA didn’t get any help when he was knocked from his next start in Boston by Milan Lucic. He didn’t start again until December and struggled to find his game for the entire month. He then locked down beginning on January 1 and didn’t look back, putting together a 2.27 GAA and .924 SV%.

Consistently Consistent Award – Tyler Ennis

He didn’t start rolling at a regular clip until after he had missed 34 games with injury. He only played 48 games but picked up 34 points (15+19) in that span. He was indeed a consistent weapon the Sabres could rely on down the stretch, making him extremely valuable heading into next season.

Unsung Hero – Christian Ehrhoff

In case you were wondering, Ehrhoff only makes $4M per year, technically. Considering that cap hit, he was really freaking valuable for most of the season. He was easily the most consistent defenseman the Sabres had and they missed him desperately when he was hurt. Too many people ignored his performance because he wasn’t scoring goals and because he makes $10M per season. He caught a lot of flak for not putting up monster numbers offensively, but he was still extremely valuable. Continue reading