Can Drew Stafford keep up his 40+ goal pace from last year? Read on to find out.
If you're like me you're loving reading through these Blogger's Breakouts. Great to get the insight from somebody who follows their team 24/7. Today is no exception as we have Zach Zielonka from Die By the Blade in as our Sabres expert. We asked Zach seven fantasy questions related to the Sabres... check below for his answers. Also, make sure you check our DBTB for all the Sabres news you could possibly ever want... like this post on what to expect from Derek Roy this season.
If you're interested in FHS' breakout picks and fantasy take on the Sabres check out our draft kit which includes The Breakout Bible, the Fantasy Scouting Report (with SuperStats included) and our Fantasy Prospect Database.
BY ZACHARY ZIELONKA FROM DIE BY THE BLADE
Q1) Sabres Breakout of the Year?
Our candidate is a player that has only been with the Sabres for one full season, Tyler Ennis. Ennis scored 20 goals in 82 games last year and was pegged by ESPN as a player that could score 30 goals this season as well. Starting his second full season and probably earning a chance to play on the second line, his scoring chances should increase this season and with that the chance at 30 goals. With those increases in scoring chances and trying to cash in on a possible new contract at the end of the season, I would expect Ennis to be a pleasant surprise for the Sabres this season.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Sabres?
While Nathan Gerbe scored only 16 goals and 31 points last season, I truly believe he is a threat to score 30 goals this season. In his first NHL season, it took Gerbe 21 games to find his first goal of the season but managed to score 15 goals in the final 40 games of the season and two more goals in the playoffs. With a full season of adapting to the NHL game, he could become a scoring threat depending on where he ends up in the lineup.
Q3) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
While this may not be exactly groundbreaking, I think that James Reimer will be a top 10 goaltender at the end of the season. The Maple Leafs rookie was one of the biggest bright spots for the Leafs in the second half of the season last year and it could be interesting to see how he handles a full workload this year. The Leafs defense still has some question marks, but if Reimer plays well, the Leafs could be heading to the playoffs and Reimer could be a late round gem.
Q4) Player likely to Breakdown on the Sabres?
Drew Stafford had an impressive second half of the season which saw him score 21 goals when the calendar turned over to 2011. Nine of those goals came in three games though as he had a career high four hat tricks last season. In a contract year, Stafford had 31 goals which was 11 goals higher than his career high in 20 goals in the 2008-09 season. That 2008-09 season just happened to be a contract year as well. The year after, Stafford scored 14 goals in 71 games.
Q5) Best Fantasy Prospect on the Sabres?
The likelihood of a prospect making the opening day Sabres roster seem to be very slim at the moment with the lack of available roster space. The first forward to get a call up for the Sabres will most likely be Luke Adam. Adam had three goals and one assist in 19 games last season in a handful of callups with the Sabres. Another prospect that could get a cup of tea with the big club this season would be Zack Kassian. While Kassian may not light the lamp a bunch, if your league credits penalty minutes Kassian could be a player that could rack them up quickly. Kassian plays with an edge and during his time in the OHL, he crossed that line often which garnered a handful of suspensions in his three years in the league.
Q6) How do you see the Sabres goalie situation playing out this year?
With the emergence of Jhonas Enroth last season, it should give Lindy Ruff confidence in the backup goaltender position, something he hasn't truly had in the past three seasons. With that confidence, Miller should play around 65 games with Enroth playing in the other 15 or so games left in the season. The Sabres still have 21 back to back games this season which is the most in the league, even though that was decreased from last season.
With the added rest, we expect Ryan Miller to return to the form he had two seasons ago when he won the Vezina trophy compared to last season's disappointing season. Miller will still give up the soft goal every now and then but should have a solid season.
Q7) Drew Stafford was scoring at a 41 goal pace last year... is he a 40 goal man if he can stay healthy?
I highly doubt it. While he is trying some new training regimens this offseason, including hot yoga, Stafford's season last year saw him scoring at a .5 goal/game pace which is almost double of his .3 goal/game pace in his career. Stafford had four hat tricks last season, which has to be awful hard to replicate again next season. The final thing to consider is that last season was a contract year for Stafford and now that he has cashed in on his season, will he just go back to his form of just barely scoring 20 goals a season.
Good work from Zach. Glad to see he's talking sense about Drew Stafford. If you have any other questions or comments about the Sabres fire them off in the comments and we (or maybe Zach) will answer them.