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What The Season Holds: The Defense

09/21/10
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As part of my Sabres 2010/2011 season preview, I did a post on the statistical projections for the forward corps. This time, I take a crack at what the defense might do. This entry will be significantly more in-depth, with blocked shots and GvA/TkA ratios (giveaway/takeaway) worked in. To the numbers!

Tyler Myers
2009/2010 stats: 82GP 11G 37A +13 23:44TOI/G 137BkS 94GvA 30TkA

Myers had a stellar rookie season that earned him the Calder trophy. He scored 48 points and lead the team in TOI/G with 23:44 but also had a whopping 94 giveaways. His giveaway numbers won’t lessen much while his role increases even more, but I do expect his blocked shots and takeaways to go up as well as his scoring.

2010/2011 predicted stats: 15G 41A +10 25:30TOI/G 151BkS 85GvA 31TkA

Craig Rivet
2009/2010 stats: 78GP 1G 14A -6 18:13TOI/G 56BkS 40GvA 17TkA

Rivet played in 78 games last year, which is WELL over what he should have. His double torn labrum effectively killed his production of any sort in 09/10, which should be much improved as he’s coming off of a successful surgical repair. His goals, major fighting penalties, +/- rating, and blocked shots numbers all ought to jump again with him healthy.

2010/2011 predicted stats: 70GP 10G 21A -1 19:00TOI/G 83BkS 43GvA 20TkA

Steve Montador
2009/2010 stats: 78GP 5G 18A +0 17:05TOI/G 81BkS 49GvA 20TkA

Montador was a pleasant surprise for Sabres fans last season, especially so in the playoffs. He definitely outplayed his sensible contract and will be looked to contribute offensively in the upcoming season. If only he’d take better care of his skate blades or learn to be at a guy up.

2010/2011 predicted stats: 75GP 6G 18A +1 16:50TOI/G 86BkS 51GvA 19TkA

Jordan Leopold
2009/2010 stats: 81GP 11G 15A -2 21:25TOI/G 138BkS 29GvA 16TkA

Leopold spent time with the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins last year, looking pretty decent the entire time. In Buffalo, I expect him to play less and thus score less. Here’s hoping his concussion is fully behind him and he’s ready for a long season.

2010/2011 predicted stats: 79GP 11G 12A -3 18:15TOI/G 124BkS 21GvA 12TkA

Shaone Morrisonn
2009/2010 stats: 68GP 1G 11A +8 17:34TOI/G 104BkS 30GvA 12TkA

Morrisonn split time between Mike Green and Joe Corvo last season with Washington, so he knows a thing or two about covering for free-wheeling puck-movers. He’ll be asked to do much of the same in Buffalo with Tyler Myers, if my logic is right. His production may not be much to shake a stick at, but he’ll be solid in the back end…especially with Ryan Miller behind him.

2010/2011 predicted stats: 71GP 3G 14A +14 22:45TOI/G 121BkS 29GvA 14TkA

Chris Butler
2009/2010 stats: 59GP 1G 20A -15 20:01TOI/G 66BkS 38GvA 10TkA

Butler suffered from the dreaded sophomore slump and is looking to break free from its grip in his third pro season. He looks good in camp so far and is poised to impress again. I don’t see his scoring improving much, but I think his +/- rating will. His TOI/G may suffer depending on what pair he plays on, but I don’t think it will by much.

2010/2011 predicted stats: 62GP 5G 20A -1 18:50TOI/G 85BkS 29GvA 10TkA

Andrej Sekera
2009/2010 stats: 49GP 4G 7A -1 17:26TOI/G 47BkS 25GvA 12TkA

Sekera played just over half a season last year, primarily because he just couldn’t summon the will to anchor down a regular spot. With Butler coming out of his sophomore slump and Weber challenging for a regular role, I don’t see Sekera doing it this year either. He just doesn’t seem to have the killer instinct, which is sad given his skating talent. Leopold’s presence also presents Sekera with competition on the finesse defender front.

2010/2011 predicted stats: 22GP 2G 4A +0 16:45TOI/G 25BkS 14GvA 4TkA

Mike Weber
2009/2010 (AHL) stats: 80GP 5G 16A +18

Weber finally overcame the injury bug and put together a fine season for a big, mean shutdown defender in 09/10. His 153PIM were also nice. He looks to challenge for a regular roster spot and, following Lindy’s comments that the Sabres will carry 8 defensemen at first, it looks like he’ll get his chance. If he does earn his spot, pray he looks like he did during the tail end of 07/08 when he dominated the blueline with fellow rookie Sekera.

2010/2011 predicted stats: 59GP 2G 10A +12 17:25TOI/G 112BkS 29GvA 10TkA

There you have it folks – my defensive predictions. Given the much reduced number of players on defense, it was easier to do player-by-player estimation. All I’ve got left to preview is the goaltending and a team outlook, so stay tuned!

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