Never have more words perhaps been written on a daily basis about a player by a teams fans than have been about Tyler Myers.
To that I thought, why not add more. Makes sense, right?
Tyler Myers burst upon the Sabres scene as a 19 year old playmaking force. For a player that was not even expected to make the team, let alone stick around, he had a tremendous year, scoring 11 goals and adding 37 assists. Buffalo fans thought he was the second coming, a new & improved version of Zdeno Chara.
Interesting how that comparison shaped, and almost damned, Myers future.
As the next two years passed by, and Myers admittedly came into camp each year not in the absolute best shape possible, his play began slowly, improving as each season went along. His number dropped in each of those 2 seasons, again not surprising for a variety of reasons. He was 6'8 and maybe 210 pounds soaking wet his rookie year, yet instead of each fan being overjoyed with the player he already was, they all wanted more.
Understandable, but badly misdirected.
The rallying cry was he should add more weight. He is 6'8, so he should weigh at least 240-250, so each year he tried to add weight. All it did was stunt his growth and sap some of his mobility and skating, which happened to be his best game. Everybody wanted more hitting, you know, due to the Chara comparison. Again, misguided.
Simply put, you cannot make players something they are not, and because a player is not how you think he should be as a player does not make him a bum and/or useless.
When the league came back from the season long lockout, and the rules were strictly enforced, Chara, while still a good player, had the look of a pylon with skates on some nights. As the years have gone by, and the league has been more lenient when it comes to the rules (holding, cross checking, hooking, etc.) it is by no coincidence that Chara has looked more like an all world D. By that same notion, it is not shocking that on international ice, when playing for his country, that Sekera has looked as good or better than Chara, and it is also not surprising that Myers numbers have gone down each year with the same leniency shown on rules allowing obstruction to creep back into the game.
The first item that needs to be put to bed that Myers contract is some kind of monetary albatross that the team cannot withstand or break free from. To that line of thinking, I say hogwash. His cap hit is $5.5M through 20180-2019 when he will be a mere 29 years of age. Within the next two years, the cap will rise by such a margin that his cap hit will barely be a worry. Also, and more importantly, beginning in 2016-2017, his salary actually GOES DOWN ($4M, $3.5M, $3M), which means he would be a perfect fit for any team looking to make the cap floor as his cap number would be higher than what they have to pay him. Teams in that situation would target him easily, and that's even if he was only a 3/4 defenseman, at that cap hit and pay rate.
The second, and more important note, is that Tyler Myers should be a case study in how teams fans hopes & dreams can cloud their reality when it comes to a young defenseman, and young players in general.
Tyler Myers is clearly at his best, as a player, when he is flying all over the ice, leading the rush himself at times, then flying back to cover on D. He plays very well when playing with a sort of abandon, like he is on a fine line of going over the edge of being too aggressive. In order to play that way, a defenseman needs a sturdy, reliable partner on D so he is not always worrying about being hung to try when taking chances.
He has that in exactly one season: his rookie season.
In all the other seasons, his partner has been something of a tire fire. That is not to absolve Myers of any blame for his poor play, but it is a basis for an explanation of his decreased productivity. In the prior two plus seasons, you could see indecision in his game when he was anywhere on the ice. No player can do well playing that way, and especially somebody like Myers.
We all know he needed to commit more to being a professional player as he himself said as much after last season, but before casting off the to be 24 year old young defenseman as being some sort of waste of space, perhaps you as a fan should adjust your expectations more towards reality, realizing that Myers is not now, and never will be Chara. He is a strong skating, all over the ice kind of defenseman, and that is where his focus should be as a player.
When he understands that, he will become an impact player once again. It is high time Sabres fans start understanding that, and stop wishing for things that he will never be simply due to his height.