This is the start of my off season assessment of the Buffalo Sabres players. I figured I would start with two on again, off again line mates in Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno. On paper, these are 2 completely different players. Ennis is 5’9”, 157 lbs while Foligno is 6’3” and 226 lbs. However, both of them can add a lot to the Sabres.
Before I kick this off, I’m going to say one thing that basis my theory on how the Sabres need to be structured. Obviously, we can’t just start from scratch with this team. Some will stay, others will go. I’m a big fan of getting players who play well as a part of the system, and who compliment each other on the ice. I think a lot of NHL teams drool over star players, or players who put up decent numbers for a specific team. Then overpay to get them. The game plan needs to be designed to get the most out of the the players on the ice. So, throughout looking at these players, please keep that in mind.
I’m going to start with Ennis. He is one of those players who I feel has the potential to be a great player in the NHL. While he is small, he is very quick and has the ability to be in the right place at the right time. He’s very agile and when he uses his speed, he’s dangerous. Ennis also isn’t too afraid to go to the front of the net, but isn’t consistent. In open ice, he’s has the potential to be dangerous.
Unfortunately, the past 2 years, Ennis’ numbers have been down due to injury and the lockout. When he played his first full season for Buffalo in 2010-2011, he netted 20 goals and had a total of 49 points. He also stays out of the penalty box. Ennis also hasn’t played a full season since his first season with the Sabres. I’m a little concerned about that as we head into the 2013-2014 season, but Ennis is young. I’m sure it’s not going to be that big of a deal.
Which now moves me to Foligno. He is almost the opposite of Ennis. He’s big, and doesn’t have the ability to score to the degree that Ennis can. However, Foligno isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice, and at times, can play a very physical game. Foligno also isn’t one to shy away from a fight. He demonstrated his scoring ability in Rochester pre-lockout, putting up 16 goals and a total of 39 points. There, he often played with a player who could score, and another big forward in Mark Mancari.
However, I feel that Foligno was underutilized this past season, as was Ennis. With a new rebuild coming in Buffalo, a lot of people are wondering who is secure in Buffalo and who isn’t. Now, I can’t tell anyone that. Your guess is as good as mine. However, I think that Foligno and Ennis will play into the future for the Sabres. They’re both young players, and have a lot to offer. Regier shouldn’t even think about trading them unless a great deal is presented to him.
So how do Ennis and Foligno play into the future?
I think Ennis and Foligno need to stay on the same line. I like the concept of putting players who compliment each other together. I’d like to see Buffalo add another player who plays aggressively and has speed. Stafford worked initially, but I don’t think he’s the answer. I’d like to see another bigger forward join this line. While Ennis isn’t necessarily one to shy away from a hit, it can open up a lot of options offensively by having 2 bigger players around him. Also, Ennis and Foligno are able to move the puck well in the offensive zone. Getting one more big forward to join these two and who can move the puck, and there’s a decent line for the Sabres.
Why do I like this concept so much?
I like protection for the star players of a team. Ennis has the ability to score more, if he has the right people around him. I think that Foligno is already one solid player to do that, and I think that another power forward can add to this combo. In using these players for the upcoming season, I think that Ennis and Foligno can both contribute to the power play. Foligno. Ennis can cycle the puck well, and has a decent shot. Foligno, he’s huge. His place? Standing right in front of an opposing goalie, and causing havoc. I’d also consider Foligno on the penalty kill.
In the end, I like both of these players. I think they weren’t used correctly under Ruff, but I think Rolston may be different. That’s the key here isn’t it? A new leader, new roles, and a new direction for the Sabres.
However, I think we can count on Ennis and Foligno playing at part in the Buffalo Sabres future.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB
As always, thanks for reading!