The curious case of Zemgus Girgensons

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As the 2016 offseason carries on, Buffalo’s GM Tim Murray has gone about his business and continued to bolster the Sabres young roster with talent. Adding proven scorer, Kyle Okposo, should give the offense a much-needed boost and the competition for the #2 spot behind Lehner looks to be an interesting one. Aside from Linus Ullmark, the Sabres signed Anders Nilsen to a one-year deal as well as re-signed RFA Jason Kasdorf.

With a Ristolainen deal in the works and Jimmy Vesey planning on testing the open market, there are only a couple of burning questions that remain. Among them, what to do with Latvian Locomotive: Zemgus Girgensons.

The 6’1″, 190lb. winger has the right traits to be a successful player in the NHL but his inconsistent play coupled with the off-ice rumours of playing in the KHL have him in a tough spot. Although he attempted to quash those rumours on Twitter, it’s still a cause for concern.

Despite appearing in 10 more games than the previous season, in which he enjoyed career highs in both goals (15) and assists (15), there was a significant decrease in production on the ice.

“Definitely, offense was a struggle and disappointing for myself. No doubt about that. Any player will always have a down year. It’s definitely on me how I played. It’s just bearing down on chances I had, more focus, more drive, more passion for the goals and offense I should have.” -Zemgus Girgensons

If a deal gets done, with how the Sabres roster is currently shaping up, it’s likely Zemgus will be destined to play on the 3rd or 4th lines. On the flip side, Buffalo has a plethora of speedy, highly-skilled youngsters in Rochester who are eager to prove their worth. Last season we saw Evan Rodrigues and Hudson Fasching both make their NHL debuts. Also vying for a roster spot is Alex Nylander, the 8th overall pick from this year’s NHL Entry Draft.

There’s also the possibility of trying to trade Girgensons if a deal can be struck. He was drafted 14th overall in 2012 and has shown flashes of brilliance. With Murray still looking to add depth on the blue line, he could seek a young defenseman as a return. The Sabres are no longer in a total rebuilding mode, they’re tweaking and tinkering… adding pieces to a lineup that has a foundation in place. Whether Zemgus stays or is dealt is anyone’s guess as the Sabres seek to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.