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02-27-2011, 10:06 PM
  #1
Ron Barr
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It's Time to Put Ennis At Center

There has been a ton of discussion around here about our lack of depth down the middle. Connolly has been a big underachiever this season, Roy is missing almost 50 games, and the rest of our centers just aren't fit for a consistent top 6 role. Hecht is a solid top six winger when he's on, but I think at this stage he's best suited as a third line player. Gaustad is great at faceoffs and has chipped in on offense fairly well for a bottom six player, but I can't ever see him being an effective top 6 center at this stage of his career.

Ennis played center in juniors, right? I think he even played center in the World Juniors for a bit. He played center in the AHL some of the time, right? And he had a short stint at center late last season, and showed some good chemistry with Pominville.

I'm not worried about draws. We only have one center who can consistently stay over 50% at faceoffs anyway, the rest are clawing at 45% at best all year, so it's not like Ennis could do much worse in that department. I think with Stafford, Gerbe, Kaleta, and even Vanek and Pommers to an extent, we have enough speed coming down the wing. Hecht, Gaustad and Niedermayer are average skaters, and Connolly is only a good skater when he wants to be (he'll usually have like 1 good rush up the middle with the puck in a game, where he really stands out, but then for the rest of the game he just half-***** it). I think with Ennis' explosive skating up the middle, it'll give our offense a little more of a dynamic.

There are big questions about his defensive positioning, even on the wing, so putting him at center especially at this time of year, we'll see him make some mistakes. Whatever, it happens. Young players have to make mistakes to learn. Right now, with a huge hole missing down the middle and nobody to efficiently replace that hole, I'm willing to take a risk on a young stud of a prospect to learn the game on the fly by filling that hole. I think Ennis can handle the work-load.

Ennis has already shown that he can have chemistry with just about everyone he plays with. Hell, he was still producing as one of the top rookie scorers when he was with Grier and Niedermayer for the first half of the season. I think if we give him an extended look as the 1st line center, between Vanek and Pominville, Ennis will step his game up big time.

What do we have to lose? Management hasn't a clue where they'll end up in the standings, so why not take the risk? If it works out well for us, and Ennis manages to fit in well between two of our best offensive wingers (who he's shown great chemistry with both of them), we'll end up with a lethal top scoring line, and a bit of relief from this whole top six center situation.

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02-27-2011, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron Barr View Post
There has been a ton of discussion around here about our lack of depth down the middle. Connolly has been a big underachiever this season, Roy is missing almost 50 games, and the rest of our centers just aren't fit for a consistent top 6 role. Hecht is a solid top six winger when he's on, but I think at this stage he's best suited as a third line player. Gaustad is great at faceoffs and has chipped in on offense fairly well for a bottom six player, but I can't ever see him being an effective top 6 center at this stage of his career.

Ennis played center in juniors, right? I think he even played center in the World Juniors for a bit. He played center in the AHL some of the time, right? And he had a short stint at center late last season, and showed some good chemistry with Pominville.

I'm not worried about draws. We only have one center who can consistently stay over 50% at faceoffs anyway, the rest are clawing at 45% at best all year, so it's not like Ennis could do much worse in that department. I think with Stafford, Gerbe, Kaleta, and even Vanek and Pommers to an extent, we have enough speed coming down the wing. Hecht, Gaustad and Niedermayer are average skaters, and Connolly is only a good skater when he wants to be (he'll usually have like 1 good rush up the middle with the puck in a game, where he really stands out, but then for the rest of the game he just half-***** it). I think with Ennis' explosive skating up the middle, it'll give our offense a little more of a dynamic.

There are big questions about his defensive positioning, even on the wing, so putting him at center especially at this time of year, we'll see him make some mistakes. Whatever, it happens. Young players have to make mistakes to learn. Right now, with a huge hole missing down the middle and nobody to efficiently replace that hole, I'm willing to take a risk on a young stud of a prospect to learn the game on the fly by filling that hole. I think Ennis can handle the work-load.

Ennis has already shown that he can have chemistry with just about everyone he plays with. Hell, he was still producing as one of the top rookie scorers when he was with Grier and Niedermayer for the first half of the season. I think if we give him an extended look as the 1st line center, between Vanek and Pominville, Ennis will step his game up big time.

What do we have to lose? Management hasn't a clue where they'll end up in the standings, so why not take the risk? If it works out well for us, and Ennis manages to fit in well between two of our best offensive wingers (who he's shown great chemistry with both of them), we'll end up with a lethal top scoring line, and a bit of relief from this whole top six center situation.
He was a LW in juniors and has been primarily a LW. But he has had some stints at center in Portland.

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02-27-2011, 10:08 PM
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I can't see any harm in at least trying.

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02-27-2011, 10:11 PM
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Can he be any worse than Connolly? No.

Worth a shot, IMO, but to be honest I'd give Sabretooth a shot at top six center if it meant Connolly was on the next flight out of Buffalo.

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02-27-2011, 10:24 PM
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Right now, Hecht is easily the better option at center. Ennis has started to shore up his defensive game in the past few weeks, but the last thing he needs is more responsibility in the defensive zone. And frankly, Hecht's numbers are almost identical at ES (10 G, 14 A) to Ennis' (9 G, 15 A)

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02-28-2011, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by jlr View Post
Can he be any worse than Connolly? No.

Worth a shot, IMO, but to be honest I'd give Sabretooth a shot at top six center if it meant Connolly was on the next flight out of Buffalo.
I think Connolly will be on a flight to New York City on Monday.
(if they don't trade him)

Ennis has been better lately but he still needs to learn how to play defense before we put him at center.

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02-28-2011, 01:28 AM
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Originally Posted by umwoz View Post
I can't see any harm in at least trying.
It could set back Ennis' development. If he's not ready to handle the responsibilities of playing center he'll lose confidence. Besides the added mental responsibilities, he needs more physical strength to play center. He's going to have to go behind his own net and battle for lose pucks as well cover for his dmen in front of his net. Ideally a young player should be put in a position where he has the best chance to succeed. I think the Sabres did that with Ennis. He's having fun and having success. I wouldn't mess with that.

Gerbe would be better choice to try at center. He's mastered the defensive game at wing, is a great skater, and is as strong as a chimp.

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02-28-2011, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Buffaloed View Post
It could set back Ennis' development. If he's not ready to handle the responsibilities of playing center he'll lose confidence. Besides the added mental responsibilities, he needs more physical strength to play center. He's going to have to go behind his own net and battle for lose pucks as well cover for his dmen in front of his net. Ideally a young player should be put in a position where he has the best chance to succeed. I think the Sabres did that with Ennis. He's having fun and having success. I wouldn't mess with that.

Gerbe would be better choice to try at center. He's mastered the defensive game at wing, is a great skater, and is as strong as a chimp.
Agree with both of Chain's points.

I'd use #8, #29, etc., even #42 at C before I'd use Ennis at this point in the season. If they want to try him at C next year, I'd do so with a couple bigger boys (Kassian? Foligno? on the wings).

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02-28-2011, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Buffaloed View Post
It could set back Ennis' development. If he's not ready to handle the responsibilities of playing center he'll lose confidence. Besides the added mental responsibilities, he needs more physical strength to play center. He's going to have to go behind his own net and battle for lose pucks as well cover for his dmen in front of his net. Ideally a young player should be put in a position where he has the best chance to succeed. I think the Sabres did that with Ennis. He's having fun and having success. I wouldn't mess with that.

Gerbe would be better choice to try at center. He's mastered the defensive game at wing, is a great skater, and is as strong as a chimp.
Ennis doesn't really strike me as the kind of player that loses his confidence easily, like Vanek used to (or maybe still does). This team is starting to show a lot of it's young talent, and with Boyes coming here at almost a point/game in the last 25+ games, it might give him a jump start too. But then again, I had high(ish) hopes for Torres, and... yeaahhhh.

Since Boyes is the new guy on the team and doesn't really know the system at all yet, why not have Ennis center him with Vanek on LW? Might be sick, might be fail, but I'd like to see it.

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02-28-2011, 09:17 PM
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I mentioned this in another thread but I think Ruff has pretty much settled on his top 3 centers for the rest of the year; Hecht, Connolly and Goose.


I don't see Ennis getting a shot

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03-11-2011, 10:22 PM
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Ennis at Center?

Seeing how this team has very little depth at center (specifically for the future, do you think Ennis could eventually end up as a top-6 center instead of a winger? Personally, with Vanek, Pomminville, Boyes and Stafford here, those four could be the wingers on your top-6 and Ennis could be one of the top-6 centers? I know he has a lot to learn about defensive play and face-offs, but he plays very well with the puck and has very good vision in the offensive zone, which I believe over time will translate to the defensive zone as well. Especially since Connolly will likely be gone next season and there's no real big FA centers besides Richards and I doubt the Sabres will sign him (not for ownership not being able to dish out the cash, more that I don't feel he'd fit the team, which is fairly young).

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03-12-2011, 09:36 AM
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I think Hecht has done a great job at center, except for faceoffs. Until Roy is back I would go with Boyes, Hecht, Connolly, and Gausted. There's no reason to mess with Ennis, but it's something to look at in training camp or preseason. Just not right now.

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03-12-2011, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Play4Miracles View Post
I think Hecht has done a great job at center, except for faceoffs. Until Roy is back I would go with Boyes, Hecht, Connolly, and Gausted. There's no reason to mess with Ennis, but it's something to look at in training camp or preseason. Just not right now.
Yea that was more what I was getting at. Not for this season with the play-off push and all, but more for next season. He just reminds me so much of Briere, so elusive with the puck and he has a bit of sniper in him but moreso a knack for finding the open man. I think if he has the puck on his stick more, which he will at center, we'll see his point totals rise exponentially.

But for next season I see it somewhat like this...

L1 Vanek- Roy- Boyes
L2 Stafford- Ennis- Pominville
L3 Gerbe- Hecht- Kassian
L4 McCormick- Gaustad- Kaleta
EX1 Ellis- Adam- Mancari
EX2 Foligno-Byron-Parrish


D1 Weber- Myers
D2 Sekera- Montador
D3 Leopold- Butler/Morrisonn
EX1 Brennan- Schiestel
EX2 Gragniani- McNabb
EX3 Persson- Pysyk

G1 Miller
G2 Enroth
EX1 Leggio
EX2 Eidsness/Knapp

-Personally I think it gives us a more offensive top-9, and I think Weber is the type of stay at home who can make the right pass kind of guy Myers could flourish with. Weber's still only 23 and doesn't turn 24 until December of next season, so pairing them together could be the beginning of a long-term shutdown pairing.

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03-12-2011, 09:19 PM
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Ron Barr
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I really think we should trade Boyes in the off-season in a package for a true center. Sure he's done fairly well since coming here, but I can't ever see him really fitting in and making a difference. He's just too much of the same, and we have WAY too many wingers in our system, especially right handed wingers.

Out of Vanek, Pominville, Stafford and Boyes, I'd like to get rid of Boyes the most. Poms is a better leader and overall player, and Vanek and Stafford can take over games when they want. Boyes is a solid secondary scorer but I think he can be easily replaced. I'm sick of these pseudo centers filling up our forward lines down the middle, I want some 50% face-off winning natural centers who can produce top 6 offense as well. That'll be hard to find in the off-season, but it is a must IMO.

As for Ennis. I think he should be moved to center at some point in his career. Probably not at this point though.

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03-12-2011, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
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Out of Vanek, Pominville, Stafford and Boyes, I'd like to get rid of Boyes the most. Poms is a better leader and overall player, and Vanek and Stafford can take over games when they want. Boyes is a solid secondary scorer but I think he can be easily replaced. I'm sick of these pseudo centers filling up our forward lines down the middle, I want some 50% face-off winning natural centers who can produce top 6 offense as well. That'll be hard to find in the off-season, but it is a must IMO.
I'm not sure that would reflect well on the organization. That said, I don't disagree with you.

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03-12-2011, 10:55 PM
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I really think we should trade Boyes in the off-season in a package for a true center. Sure he's done fairly well since coming here, but I can't ever see him really fitting in and making a difference. He's just too much of the same, and we have WAY too many wingers in our system, especially right handed wingers.

Out of Vanek, Pominville, Stafford and Boyes, I'd like to get rid of Boyes the most. Poms is a better leader and overall player, and Vanek and Stafford can take over games when they want. Boyes is a solid secondary scorer but I think he can be easily replaced. I'm sick of these pseudo centers filling up our forward lines down the middle, I want some 50% face-off winning natural centers who can produce top 6 offense as well. That'll be hard to find in the off-season, but it is a must IMO.

As for Ennis. I think he should be moved to center at some point in his career. Probably not at this point though.
I guess the Sabres lost and Boyes did not get a point. Ship his ass out!

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03-12-2011, 11:51 PM
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I guess the Sabres lost and Boyes did not get a point. Ship his ass out!
Yeah because that's what I said. How about you actually read my post next time.

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03-13-2011, 06:16 AM
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well that didn't take long....

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03-13-2011, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Ron Barr View Post
I really think we should trade Boyes in the off-season in a package for a true center. Sure he's done fairly well since coming here, but I can't ever see him really fitting in and making a difference. He's just too much of the same, and we have WAY too many wingers in our system, especially right handed wingers.

Out of Vanek, Pominville, Stafford and Boyes, I'd like to get rid of Boyes the most. Poms is a better leader and overall player, and Vanek and Stafford can take over games when they want. Boyes is a solid secondary scorer but I think he can be easily replaced. I'm sick of these pseudo centers filling up our forward lines down the middle, I want some 50% face-off winning natural centers who can produce top 6 offense as well. That'll be hard to find in the off-season, but it is a must IMO.

As for Ennis. I think he should be moved to center at some point in his career. Probably not at this point though.
What?


So if I follow you correctly. After 7 games you have determined Boyes is more of the same, will not fit in and for some odd reason you already have determined we need to get rid of him.


You also have this completely contradictory position of being mad we are using wingers at center. Refering to them as pseudo centers. Yet you've started a thread advocating that very thing. Putting Ennis at center.


Stafford is now considered a player that takes over games? He has had some great games this year from but he is hardly a player that takes over games.


You do realize that Boyes is at center right now out of necessity.


Having wingers that can fill in when injuries hit at the center position is a good thing. Not something to mad about.


I agree we need to acquire a center in the off season. But I hardly see a need to dump Boyes to do it. Nor is he close to the best chip to play to get one.

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03-13-2011, 11:32 AM
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Ron Barr
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What?


So if I follow you correctly. After 7 games you have determined Boyes is more of the same, will not fit in and for some odd reason you already have determined we need to get rid of him.
I'm basing this off his run in St. Louis as well.

Quote:
You also have this completely contradictory position of being mad we are using wingers at center. Refering to them as pseudo centers. Yet you've started a thread advocating that very thing. Putting Ennis at center.
There's a difference. Guys like Boyes are in the prime of their careers, and have already played the majority of their career at the wing. Ennis is still young and a bit raw, so maybe if he gets a lot of experience down the middle now it'll help him more down the road.

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Stafford is now considered a player that takes over games? He has had some great games this year from but he is hardly a player that takes over games.
There have been quite a few games this year where if Stafford wasn't in the line-up, we probably wouldn't have won. A couple games against Boston come to mind...

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You do realize that Boyes is at center right now out of necessity.
Yeah, which is why I want to see us get rid of a bit of our winger depth over the summer for some true center depth. So we don't have to keep putting wingers at center when the few effective centers we do have get hurt.

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Having wingers that can fill in when injuries hit at the center position is a good thing. Not something to mad about.
I'm not mad about it, I'd just prefer center depth to winger depth.

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I agree we need to acquire a center in the off season. But I hardly see a need to dump Boyes to do it. Nor is he close to the best chip to play to get one.
If we do acquire a top 6 center in the off-season, and don't get rid of any of our wingers, that would mean one of Stafford, Pominville or Boyes would get pushed to the third line. It may seem like that's a good thing because we'd have a lot of depth on the right side. But wasn't that Boyes' problem in St. Louis to begin with? He was playing on the third and fourth line for the past couple seasons, mainly because St. Louis had tons of top 6 forwards to begin with. So even when Boyes was playing well he usually didn't get to play on the top lines.

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03-13-2011, 12:31 PM
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Boyes isn't going anywhere, at least for one more season.

If they are aggressive this summer, they might try to sign UFA Brad Richards. If that happens, they would probably have to move somebody like Pomminville to make it work. But I would be surprised if they went after Richards.

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03-13-2011, 12:38 PM
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I'm basing this off his run in St. Louis as well.
Which makes absolutely no sense. How he fits here is judged by how he fits here. Not how he played on another team playing a different system.



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There's a difference. Guys like Boyes are in the prime of their careers, and have already played the majority of their career at the wing. Ennis is still young and a bit raw, so maybe if he gets a lot of experience down the middle now it'll help him more down the road.
No there isn't. You want someone thats not a natural center to be converted to center.


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There have been quite a few games this year where if Stafford wasn't in the line-up, we probably wouldn't have won. A couple games against Boston come to mind...
You do realize that could be said about many players on this team when referencing specific games. That does not make them a player that can take over a game. Like Stafford it means they've had some great games this year.

Stafford is in no way a player that "takes over" games.

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Yeah, which is why I want to see us get rid of a bit of our winger depth over the summer for some true center depth. So we don't have to keep putting wingers at center when the few effective centers we do have get hurt.
We can get rid of a winger to get center depth

Or we can move out some of our organziational depth on defense

Or we can sign a UFA.

But for some odd reason you only see moving Boyes out as the solution. To you the guy that just got here, needs to adjust to/learn our system and is now being asked to play center is the problem. The one thats had to make multiple adjustments to his game in a short period of time from Blues's system winger to Sabres system winger to Sabres system center and still has 6pts in 7 games. That guys doesn't fit and will never fit.

Your position is illogical.

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I'm not mad about it, I'd just prefer center depth to winger depth.
Thats fine.

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If we do acquire a top 6 center in the off-season, and don't get rid of any of our wingers, that would mean one of Stafford, Pominville or Boyes would get pushed to the third line. It may seem like that's a good thing because we'd have a lot of depth on the right side.
You have to be the only person on this board that would view getting a top 6 center in the offseason AND keeping our current wingers as a bad thing.

Our success in the two seasons after the lockout was due in large part to having top 6 players in the bottom 6.

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But wasn't that Boyes' problem in St. Louis to begin with? He was playing on the third and fourth line for the past couple seasons, mainly because St. Louis had tons of top 6 forwards to begin with. So even when Boyes was playing well he usually didn't get to play on the top lines
I love this part. You argue at the top of your post that you're basing your attack on Boyes in part on his play in St. Louis. Then you basically state you have no idea about his time there. St.Louis has been playing a defensive system. Thats why Boyes' numbers are down. Boyes has played primarily with Backes and was 5th on the Blues in ES ice time averging 14:29 a night (thats about what Roy got here). Boyes ice time in St.Louis has been pretty much the same the last 4 years. 14min or more at ES and 17+min a night overall. He was not struggling because he played on the 3rd and 4th lines.


After the trade, Boyes himself said he was excited to get away from the defensive system he was in. He was looking forward to playing in our more offensive oriented approach.


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03-13-2011, 12:56 PM
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On board with joshjull here, his points make far more sense than Ron Barr's. You don't make judgment about how a guy fits in a team in 7 games, and basing it off his time with another team which plays a completely different system doesn't make logical sense. Everybody knows we need a center but it shouldn't be at Boyes' expense. And as someone else pointed out, it would look really bad from an organization standpoint that everyone said that we weren't looking just at this year, but this year and beyond, and then ship the guy out before his contract is up.

I don't see a problem with one of our RW's playing on our third line next year if we are going to go with a top 9 offensive approach, which we should do. Plus there is the off chance that one of them gets moved to left wing, although that seems doubtful. All 3 of them (Boyes, Stafford, Pominville) will still get plenty of PP time, and whoever gets dropped to the 3rd line could strive more going against lesser defensive pairs.

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03-13-2011, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by thefifagod View Post
On board with joshjull here, his points make far more sense than Ron Barr's. You don't make judgment about how a guy fits in a team in 7 games, and basing it off his time with another team which plays a completely different system doesn't make logical sense. Everybody knows we need a center but it shouldn't be at Boyes' expense. And as someone else pointed out, it would look really bad from an organization standpoint that everyone said that we weren't looking just at this year, but this year and beyond, and then ship the guy out before his contract is up.

I don't see a problem with one of our RW's playing on our third line next year if we are going to go with a top 9 offensive approach, which we should do. Plus there is the off chance that one of them gets moved to left wing, although that seems doubtful. All 3 of them (Boyes, Stafford, Pominville) will still get plenty of PP time, and whoever gets dropped to the 3rd line could strive more going against lesser defensive pairs.

Exactly. I dont think having one of them on the third line is the end of the world. Personally I think Staff would be a good choice and it would get him some time away from top defenders.

Did anyone really have a problem with the way Vanek and Roy produced on the third line a couple seasons ago?

Talking about getting rid of Boyes after netting 6 pts in his first 7 games with the team. Getting those points playing in a new system with new teammates and playing a position he is not accustomed to would be mind boggling to me if I did not see who started this thread in the first place

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