With the trade deadline approaching, the talk of propspective trades is heating up - not just from fans and media, but from GMs. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that Sabres GM Tim Murray is ready to make a deal. “If I can acquire younger assets or future assets for some of our veterans, I’m going to pursue that for sure.”
This nearly started a riot on social media, and no name was pecked out by more thumbs of iPhone GMs than Tyler Ennis. For two seasons, Ennis has been anchor for a team who’s ship has been floating aimlessly on a dark sea of dismal results. He’s been open with the media, who have been critical of his struggles. He’s been willing to shoulder the blame when the team couldn’t score. The fact is, though, that he’s been the only player on the team to really produce in the treacherous years of the tank. Ennis was second in points in the 2013-2014 season with 43(21G, 22A) and was the team’s leading scorer in the 2014-2015 season with 46(20G, 26A.) First Darcy and then TM began to liquidate his veteran talent, and Ennis stayed through it all.
Trading Ennis would be foolish. There is no player that has bought into this team more than Ennis, and if anyone deserves a chance to prove himself, Ennis is the guy, and the truth is, he’s not playing as poorly as everyone suggests.
It would appear that Ennis’ production has fallen off this season, but in 23 games, he’s got 11 points(3G, 8A.) Carried out through a season, though (basically, multiply by four) he’s right in line with his production in the last two campaigns.
The two seasons that Ennis saw success, he played mainly as a center. Being moved to the wing, he’s working with a new set of responsibilities. He’s done his best work when he’s starting the play - the whole system is turning on his vision. As a winger, he’s got to try to feel out the center, and anticipate the play - that’s not his strength. He’s definitely a victim of the growth of the team - there’s no way he’s going to center a top line with O’Reilly, Eichel and Reinhart on the team. That’s not to say, though, that he couldn’t center Girgensons and Moulson on the third line. Does that bump Gionta? Yes. Is that OK? Absolutely. Gionta needs fewer minutes - that’s not an insult, it’s just a fact. He’s played infinitely better with diminished ice time.
The most important thing we can do at this point is manage our expectations. It really isn’t unreasonable to assume he’s still injured. Just because he’s returned doesn’t mean he’s 100%, and if he’s any less than that, the daily grind of an NHL hockey player is going to slowly diminish that number.
In no way do we need a GM with a quick trigger finger right now. Murray absolutely knows what he’s doing - he knew what he was doing when he designed the team as it is this season, and he has a vision for the future. It obviously includes Ennis and the skill set that he brings to the team. Let’s give the mighty mite a chance to fully recover from his injury, to settle into a line, and to show Buffalo that he’s still the same dynamic player he’s been for the last two seasons.