One of the biggest subplots of the Sabres’ brief season has been the play of Tyler Myers. It’s a game of small sample sizes, with just nine games for both fans and management to evaluate his play and decide his living arrangements for the winter. A quarter of this evaluation period has passed, and most fans would say thus far that Myers simply can’t go back to Kelowna.
The reasons are varied, ranging from “he’s really tall” to “he’s better than Henrik Tallinder and Nathan Paetsch.” The logic I’ve been working with so far is this: I’d rather see someone learning on the job, making mistakes that will be fixed rather than watching someone make the same mistakes they’ve made for the last two seasons. What benefits would come from another year with the Rockets? What hasn’t Myers already accomplished in his brief career in Juniors?
I feel I’m preaching to the choir for the most part, but it still needs to be said. The problems with keeping Myers here are not in his play so far, but the roster situation the Sabres find themselves in. They have too many forwards, and they also have too many mediocre defenseman with relatively large contracts. The Sabres were lucky in a sense, with Lydman’s injury it seemed a smart move to keep Myers on the roster, but once he got healthy they would need to make a decision on the kid.
Most reports say Lydman will return tonight against Detroit, but it appears the Sabres got “lucky” again. Andrej Sekera is out with a rib injury, and the diagnosis puts him on the shelf for “at least” two weeks.
Count them with me, Sabres fans: fourteen days equals six games, and we’ve hit our magic number of nine games. That’s D-Day for a decision on Myers, and if Sekera is out for longer than that the Sabres might not have a choice in the matter: Myers stays.
Even if the logic on this seems fuzzy, Sekera’s absence puts even more pressure on Myers to play a bigger role on the team. He’s going to be needed to move the puck, to shoot from the point, and will probably see more time on special teams. The crash course in Sabres blueline play just gotten a bit more complicated, but in a way this is a good thing. We wanted to see what the kid is made of, and now we’re really going to see.
Injuries are never a good thing, but fate has been kind to the Sabres very early in this season. The team has scored just five goals in three games yet hasn’t lost a game in regulation, and two well-timed openings on the blueline have given fans an extended look at the franchise’s defenseman of the future. Last year’s team had a quick start as well, but perhaps those first few games didn’t have as much purpose as these do with guys like Myers and Kennedy in the lineup.
The Sabres will still have big decisions to make with their roster in due time, but I think everyone wants nothing more than the kid making it impossible to send him packing. He sure is getting the chance to do just that.