nhl trade rumors

#blog-pager { display:none; }

Ennis of the Line for Tyler?

The waning days of July are when NHL fans feel trapped in a Rod Serling script. We scour rumor sites and twitter anxiously awaiting the signings and trades that will either send us into a fit of rage calling for our GM to be fired, or a euphoric fist pump extolling the efforts of our organization.  But it's not the swing of emotions that leave us feeling like we're in the Twilight Zone, it's the endless waiting.  They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results...you get the drift.

So in the interest of spicing up the most tiresome time of the year for hockey fans I present to you the end of Tyler Ennis as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.

At first it seems like a jarring, counter-intuitive notion, especially when "insiders" would have you believe the Sabres have turned down a myriad of offers for Tyler in exchange for Bobby Ryan and others.  However upon further examination it becomes self evident that the diminutive Tyler doesn't fit into the future plans for Darcy's latest Sabres incarnation.

Positionally Ennis is most productive at Center.  While manning the pivot flanked by Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford, Tyler racked up a team best 19pts in 16 March contests.  Ennis has also played Left Wing at times since his Sabres debut in November of 09'.  

Unfortunately for Tyler the Center position has suddenly gone from one of weakness to one of great depth for the Sabres, and of the two wings the left side is far more cluttered than the right.  Last season Buffalo sported only two true centers down the stretch in Cody Hodgson, and Ennis.  Heading into the 2012 campaign Hodgson and Ennis will receive competition from Luke Adam, and rookies Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons.  None of the aforementioned pivots are suited to anchor the fourth line, so it's essentially five guys fighting for three spots.

On the wings the Darcy Regier has assembled a very lopsided squad.  With Thomas Vanek, Ville Leino, and Steve Ott all penciled in on the left side, as well as Nathan Gerbe, Patrick Kaleta (still unsigned), and Marcus Foligno all left wings as well it's a bit too crowded to move Ennis back to left wing.  Nor is he as effective as he is when he is given the freedom to create in open space as he does as a center.

Darcy Regier has clearly made it his mantra to make the Sabres a bigger, tougher club in the coming season.  This was evident by his drafting of the large G-men in the first round, the signing of John Scott, and the trading of the undersized Roy for the rough and tumble Steve Ott.  With this new direction it would seem to go against the grain to reserve a spot in the coming years for the 5'9", 146lb Ennis in favor of the 6'3", 200lb Grigorenko, the 6'2", 200 lb Girgensons, 6'2", 203lb Adam, and the 6'0", 185lb Hodgson.  

It certainly wouldn't surprise anyone if both Mikhail Grigorenko, and Zemgus Girgensons didn't make the team out of camp.  That's a large task for 18yr olds, especially with Girgensons coming from the USHL.  Even if Luke Adam impressed enough to earn a top 9 role out of camp there's no reason to think there isn't room for Tyler Ennis as a 1st or 2nd line center this season.  But beyond this season?  That's when his role isn't so clear.

Which is why despite his wheels and vision, his uncanny chemistry with Foligno and Stafford, and his ceiling that hasn't been close to being hit, now is the perfect time to trade Ennis for a piece the Sabres need more.  For instance, a hulking right winger that can pot 30g in his sleep...but I'll refrain from naming names.

You could make the argument that the newfound depth at center would make any of the aforementioned five Sabres expendable.  You'd be right, but perhaps none have a higher trade value at the moment than Tyler.  Luke Adam had an underwhelming stretch early last season that saw a demotion back to the AHL, Grigorenko and Girgensons are completely unproven at the pro-level, and Regier is unlikely to part with Hodgson after trading blue chip prospect Zack Kassian away for his services less than six months ago.  

Right now Tyler Ennis is the most valuable commodity the Sabres have in their forward ranks that they can flip to bolster a weakness elsewhere.  With the UFA market all but dry, have we seen the end of the line for Tyler? 

-Brandon Hess
-Follow me on twitter @SabreHess


  1. Ennis is too loved in Buffalo. I get it, but with Anaheim needing a 2nd line center, hopefully we could give up Hodgson with some other pieces. And this is coming from a guy that bought a Hodgson jersey already. Groomed by Gary Suter in offseason, the kid will be a rockstar