Part four of seven.
Through Thursday the 19th, Sabres Hockey Central will be releasing the staff selections for the seven categories making up the 2010-2011 Sabres year in review. The posts will be published here at 8 a.m. daily.
Today’s award is “biggest comeback story”. Tuesday’s post will feature “biggest disappointment”.
Overall staff selection: Drew Stafford
Biggest Comeback Story
Kevin Freiheit – Drew Stafford
Before this season, I couldn’t stand Stafford. He had 31 points in 74 games and I wanted him gone. This year, he showed what he can do by putting up 52 points in 62 games.
Jeff Pawlak – Tyler Myers
Things were pretty ugly for Tyler Myers in late 2010. The reigning Calder Trophy winner had a whopping 8 points and was a disappointing -10 through 26 games. Somehow, the kid turned it around in every way possible during the next 54, posting five goals, 24 assists, and a +10 rating. In the playoffs, Myers had more ice time than any other Sabre, and was perhaps their biggest physical force against the Flyers. What we saw of him early on in the season suggested that he was lost and unmotivated; what we saw of him after that was the player who could very well be the leader of the Sabres in a few years.
Brandon Schlager – Derek Roy
Roy began the year by playing the best hockey of his career and led the team in points through 35 games (10G, 25A) until he went down with a torn quad tendon, ending his season and at the time seemingly ending the Sabres’ as well. Roy wouldn’t return in the regular season but I feel it was remarkable for him to be able to return for Game 7 against Philly where he played decent in an attempt to provide a spark for the team.
Adam Qutaishat – Tyler Myers
He was absolutely brutal early in the year. A massive sophomore slump haunted the big guy as teams started planning ways to shut him down. He turned it all around after he started play with Sekera and even when he went down Myers’ play stayed up. He was one of the best Sabres on the team in the 2nd half of the season, which is saying something considering how this team played.
He finally had the breakout year that the Buffalo Sabres had been waiting for. Stafford scored 31 goals, 11 more than his previous career high of 20 in 2008-09, while tallying 21 assists. Stafford also scored 7 more points than his previous career-high of 45 in 2008-09.
Chris Downey – Nathan Gerbe
Gerbe finally came and produced like he was expected to do.
Tony Fiorello- Drew Stafford
Stafford was entering a contract year, and before the start of this season, it looked as if he might never fulfill his enormous potential. He promptly lost weight and started shooting the puck more, and he finished with a 30-goal season.