The Future Looks Bright: A Tyler Ennis Hat Trick In 6-4 Sabres Pre-Season Victory
by Ted Mallwitz - posted 12:01 pm, September 28, 2015
For Sabres fans, the memories of a tanking team desperately searching for a top center and scoring depth are not far behind. After the tumultuous departure of beloved centers Chris Drury and Danny Briere it was obvious to everyone in Sabres nation that there was a glaring void at the pivot position. Former GM Darcy Regier attempted to fill this gap with an ill-conceived strategy of turning wingers (Boyes, Leino, Ennis) into premier centers. The bitter taste of those years of “suffering” may quickly be washed away with a wave of sweet victories.
Coach Bylsma gave Jack Eichel his first shot on the top line Saturday night in Ottawa playing with Tyler Ennis and new acquisition Evander Kane. Ennis put on a scoring clinic for the Sens scoring a hat trick and adding an assist. Ennis is clearly a player to watch this season as he hits the prime of his career. Sabres fans have seen flashes of his undoubtedly high talent ceiling throughout his career; all the while hoping to see what he can do when playing with true top line talent.
Eichel showed his skill at pivot playing between Ennis and Kane who both bring a different style of play to the game by adding two assists. Once again Eichel showed maturity and skill in all situations playing first line minutes against top competition. Evander Kane also added to the scoreboard with a goal and lived up to his power forward cred with three hits for the night. In the Kane-Eichel-Ennis line you have a skilled power forward, a slick all-around center, and a speedy skilled winger who can score the highlight reel goals.
A team that once had no top center depth has in the past few years developed a crop of players that give the Sabres an edge on their competition in the Eastern Conference and arguably the NHL as a whole: center depth, scoring depth, and a versatile roster of players who can step into multiple situations and contribute in different positions. Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Ennis, Jack Eichel, Zemgus Girgensons, Sam Reinhart, Brian Gionta, and Johan Larsson are all players who can easily be slotted in at center or wing when necessary. This is unique because not only do the Sabres have the long elusive center(s), they have a talent pool that will bring secondary scoring and players who can fill holes when injuries sideline players.
Sabres fans must note that although the glory days of the Drury-Briere team are gone, the future is extremely bright with a team that will not rely upon only one or two centers to be the core. This is a team after all that needs to function collectively in order to succeed and the roster that GM Tim Murray has assembled brings us the promise of victories to come in Hockey Heaven.