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How should we feel about Ennis' contract?

From many on Twitter, the first reaction to reports of Tyler Ennis agreeing to a five-year deal with the Sabres: “Really? That long?”
Last off-season, the Sabres signed Cody Hodgson to a six year contract with an identical cap hit to that of Ennis.

Hodgson’s deal was all sorts of questionable. He hadn’t proven much in terms of offensive production and defensive play was (and still is) a major issue. Yet Darcy Regier went all-in. Now it apperas Tim Murray has done the same with another questionable forward.

Ennis is a better two-way player, but the circumstances and questions are much the same: Should an undersized, one-dimensional player who has not proven he can play consistently really be part of the long-term plan? Where will he play? Is he the type of player the Sabres can win the Stanley Cup with?

For the deal

The argument for locking up Ennis to a five-year contract rather than aiming for another short term contract is that he is a dynamic offensive player with even higher point potential if he plays with better players.

His Even Strength scoring has been solid from Day One. Here are his Points per 60 rates:

2010-11 – 1.95/60
2011-12 – 2.61
2012-13 – 1.53
2013-14 – 1.34

To give you an idea of what that means: Thomas Vanek had 2.62 points per 60 last season. So Ennis’ rates are solid, but a ways from him being in the top level of even-strength scoring.

Ennis’ power play scoring has gone up and down. He posted an excellent 5.21 points per 60 two seasons ago, but only 2.60 per 60 in 2011-12 and 3.55 per 60 last season. Production is probably driven by luck, teammates. Again using Vanek as the baseline, the former Sabres’ winger produced as high as 6.40 per 60.

How might these rates translate to 82 games with a decent-to-good team? That depends on ice time and role. If Ennis is playing center with quality scoring wingers, his scoring rates would put him in the range of 50-60 points, assuming he still receives top power play minutes.
 The NHL has gone so far away from the big scoring totals of the 80s and early 90s that only 92 players posted more than 50 points last season.

It is hard to walk away from a probable top 100 point producer.

And from a cap standpoint, keeping him under $5 million makes it reasonable and tradable.

Against the deal

If you are arguing against Ennis’ new contract, the starting point should be the Los Angeles Kings. If you ask yourself: "Is Ennis the type of player who would fit in on a Stanley Cup winning team?" the contract appears a little cloudy. He is small and lacks a consistent effort. The Kings are built on the back of big, tenacious two-way players. Same goes for the Boston Bruins and, outside of Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks, too.

Ennis is a mediocre puck possession player as well. The championship-winning Kings were No. 1 in Fenwick Close, a puck possession measure. The Sabres’ former first-round pick has been average in this category

****There is an amendment to this, however: It should be easier for a good possession player to stand out in Relative Corsi when he is playing on a bad team. This is because the possession is measured by how good the team is with a player on the ice and off the ice. So, while Ennis’ numbers are average, they really should be better because his figures are getting compared to players like John Scott and Zenon Kenopka rather than Jarrett Stoll or Jordan Nolan as a top liner on the Kings would be.*****

0% Rel Corsi = the team is as good with as without player on the ice
+5% or more = top possession players
-5% or less = worst possession players

Here are Ennis’ numbers:

2010-11: -1.2%
2011-12: -0.6%
2012-13: +1.5%
2013-14: +0.9%

The Sabres’ young forward has been used in all types of different ways, from center to wing, offensive to defensive zone etc. In 2011-12, his offensive zone start percentage (offensive zone faceoffs / (Ozone+Dzone) was 57.0%, but over the last two seasons has been 47.4%.
The flux in usage and coaches makes it difficult to pin down whether he’d be able to succeed in a 2nd/3rd like wing role. If you’re arguing against the deal, you might say the 50-60 point projection is too high because he will play a complimentary role instead of No. 1 center and because he will likely not get 60% of the total power play time as he did the last two seasons if Reinhart and McDavid/Eichel are in Buffalo long term.

So how should we feel?

Ennis’ contract is not an anchor. It still provides the Sabres some flexibility if they decide he does not belong as part of the long-term plan. It also locks him in at decent money if he does become that player. The problem with having a hot sports take on this contract is there is so much uncertainty and still some remaining potential that has not been reached.
The contract’s success or failure also depends on a lot of players who aren’t in Buffalo yet. It’s clear he is not a centerpiece player like Toews or Kane, for example. If he plays a complimentary role and becomes the linemate of potential franchise player Sam Reinhart, he could rack up points without taking on the two-way burden. If Reinhart busts, the Sabres don’t get McDavid or Eichel, Girgensons gets deported, Ristolainen joins NASA, Armia falls into a black hole and Grigorenko won’t shave his sideburns….then Ennis will have all the pressure of carrying the team and the deal could look bad.

07/17/2014 8:52AM
How should we feel about Ennis' contract?
Please enter your comments below.
07/17/2014 9:06AM
Murray's judgement is questionable
This guy is no genius.
07/17/2014 9:07AM
It's a Joke! A pathetic Joke! This is a move Darcy would have made. And Ruhwedel the pylon??? Very disappointing. From hope at UFA to Joke pretty quick.
07/17/2014 9:18AM
Sabres Fan in Kingston
It appears that the Sabres are buying some time as their prospects develop over the next few seasons. I doubt Tyler Ennis will be with Buffalo for the full five years and the contract may be a relatively easy one to trade. Alternatively it is possible that the staff believe Ennis can and will take his game to a higher level making this more of a financial bargain.
07/17/2014 9:31AM
Sweet numbers
Do you know who your target demo is? Have fun with your BS saber-metrics while its still something you can use instead of actually writing. I have a hard time believing anyone on this staff can comprehend, and effectively utilize any of these algorithms.Just tell me if you think he is good and why, not unfounded statistics that have multiple "exception to the rule" scenarios
07/17/2014 9:50AM
Murray's first bad decision
Murray was bound to make a mistake at some point and this was it. WOW was this a terrible decision. Players like Ennis are a dime a dozen in this league and they help you win absolutely nothing. In the long run Ennis is a liability for this team. Where does he fit in!!!?? If they draft McDavid or Eichel next year then they will be the number 1 center. Reinhart is number 2 so that would make Ennis the number 3 center which severly handicaps the Sabres. Girgensons would have to play 4th line because Ennis doesn't have the size, compete level or toughness to play on the 4th line. The smart move would have been to trade Ennis in some package that also involved Tyler Myers. Now Ennis is essentially untradeable and this contract falls in line with several bad ones since 2007 like Roy's deal, Jason Pominville's atrocity of a deal and the Hogdson abomination that took place last off season. Let's hope Murray doesn't make anymore decisions that are this bad. If he does then the team is doomed forever with incompetence and fruitlessness.
07/17/2014 9:52AM
He's Better Than Ville Leino!
that's all I need to say
07/17/2014 10:53AM
Stop the McDavid / Eichel S#^t already!!!
This season has not even begun and already it is non-stop about next years draft?
07/17/2014 12:16PM
...Surrounding itself with MEDIOCRITY the likes of Enis, LOL!!! Too small... too shy... and too pretty... to ever be a difference maker in the "NHL"!! THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE... WALMART= "THEEE BIGGEST NICKLE AND DIME LOoSER FRANCHISE IN ALL OF PROESSIONAL SPORTS HISTORY"... $30 MILLION DOLLARS "BELOW" THE SALARY CAP, mind you! LOL!! ...IS ENIS ELITE? WHAT'S ELITE? WHO'S ELITE? I AM THE ELITE ONE!! SAY MY NAME!
07/17/2014 12:22PM
How Should Feel????
Embarrassed because the Barfalo Sabres are trying to lead the league in terrible contracts. No one want Ennis now or in 4 years under those terms. I thought Murray was supposed to be brilliant?
07/17/2014 1:20PM
here's what's wrong with you
fairweather buffalo fans. you question every move. fact of the matter is this man was our leading goal scorer last year. twenty goal scorers, apparently contrary to popular belief, aren't exactly easy to find. young ones gaining consistency are even harder. look back to 05-06, we had (i believe) 7 20 goal scorers on this squad. Locking ennis up is a solid move, cap hit be damned. As far as inconsistent effort, I'm of the opinion he was one of our most consistent in terms of bringing it every night. of course this is coming from the same radio station that advocates going all in for Evander Kane... fools
07/17/2014 2:06PM
I beginning to hate these stats articles
Ennis is a better player than Hodgson...thus i rate it as a better signing.
07/17/2014 2:33PM
Why not!
Once again WGR 550 pulls the dumb dumb card. Why not sign him to this type of contract. He produces on the ice. Are they supposed to save the money for a prospect that is unprove right now. Or should they spend it on someone that plays with heart andputs up points in games. Maybe they should offer it to WGR's favorite player Pysyk. Now that would be a reason for concern!
07/17/2014 2:50PM
Sabres' contract with Ennis
Why should you feel anything about it.. It is a contract between him and the Sabres not a penny comes from you.
07/17/2014 2:52PM
A lot of money for a 20 goal scorer who has reached his potential
Murray was worried about Ehrhoff when he's throwing $4M contracts around to players who are has beens. Not confident in Murray's judgment. He is perfect for Pegula, together they are going nowhere.
07/17/2014 2:54PM
Some problems with this;
I think one of the issues is that you are considering Ennis a long term Center for the Sabres. This simply isn't going to be true as he has shown at best he is a 2C and not able for 1C roles at all. Reinhart is the answer to this problem, I think. McD/Eichel/'15 1st rounder will probably take over the other Center duties for the long term Sabres or Grigorenko if we are so lucky. Ennis isn't being paid like a top level scoring forward, he is being paid as a 2nd line type forward. Looking at his capgeek comparables, there are only a select few who are better than him; Pacioretty/Marchand(debatable)/Little(debatable)/JVR and I would say Voracek and Ennis are pretty even stevens, but one benefits from having good linemates while one does not. Undersized, yes, but one dimensional I would have to completely disagree. Hodgson is one dimensional, while Ennis is improving and can actually do something in other aspects of his game. He has obviously been exposed to higher competition and weak line mates that are making him look worse instead. Also, I do not think it's quantifiable to measure Ennis' ability to improve line mates, as seen this season with Moulson/Girgensons/Stafford. I also think it's faulty to just assume that one teams mold is the only correct one to winning a cup. LAK dominates because of who they drafted and molded throughout their time building up. Carter was probably more one dimensional and now he is considered at the very least a responsible two way forward. Reading Kopitar's Hockey'sFuture bio says his defensive game is lacking, and now where is he? Top 3 Selke. The Hawks for example are hoarding young kids that range @ 6'0, not heavy either. Do players like Shaw, Saad, Morin, Nordstrom, Kruger, Smith incapable of winning championships because they are smaller? I don't believe it. Good hockey players win cups, size is only a factor. Can Ennis be a Briere/STL ? Who knows, but it's not like he's garbage. Surely if Ennis is a positive Corsi relative player on the 1st line with struggling line mates, then he should be no problem on the 2nd line. I also don't understand this 3rd line demotion for Ennis, how many 3rd liners put up 50 points? I don't understand how he would get demoted ice time on the PP either. Ennis is clearly our best offensive talent right now, and a 4 man PP unit of Rein/McD/Ennis/Armia(Staff/Hodgson/Baptiste --whoever) seems more than likely than Ennis getting demoted. Seems like you are as prejudice against Ennis for being small as other people are against Grigorenko for being Russian.
07/17/2014 3:13PM
We should feel like the Sabres better darn well have a good plan or this is stupid.
Why sign Ennis when you have Reinhart as your number two center after you get either McDavid or Eichel as you number one next year? If the Sabres have a plan to dump the shrimp or Hodgson (or better yet, both), then great. Otherwise, this is a headscratcher. Ennis is NOT a number one or number two center so on the surface this looks like pure stupidity on the part of Murray. Why not just let him go? If he's in your long term plans then the Sabres are a lost cause. Kane doesn't make Toews, Toews makes Kane and THAT is why you don't sign the weak sister version of Kane...YOU DON'T HAVE TOEWS OR HIS WEAKER SISTER!
07/17/2014 4:30PM
Worried about Ehrhoff and Murray signs Jr Ennis for 5 yrs @ $4M per, not good!
Murray throws these $4M contracts to marginal players, and he's worried about a cap hit in 6 yrs? What has this guy ever done to evoke this optimism. The Senators are a mess with little upside and that was his last post. For his uncle no less. This was not a good move.
07/17/2014 8:38PM
gm news
should have cut the little rat! tim made a reigere move. lets hope drewy and doormat are on the way out the door the way onepunch was treated.
07/17/2014 11:12PM
He is small and lacks a consistent effort??
Really Matt.....he lacks a consistent effort? Did you watch any games last year? He was one of the only players to bust his A$$ every shift, produced pretty good numbers on the worst offensive team in sabres history. Questions the length of the contract, but don't question his effort. I would aruge his effort every night is what got him the contract!!
07/18/2014 8:38AM
The only thing is Matty....
we're not getting McDavid OR Eichel. You tools need to realize that. It's okay though, some guy will come up through the ranks this year and unseat one or both of those guys as being the best pick. And can be had at 3-5. Drop the names and focus on hockey. It happens every year. Plus, take your logic. You're talking about the Kings, and Bruins, and teams like that. They don't have McDavid's, Eichels, Crosby's, etc. You don't NEED that to win in this league. Just let Murray do his job and take your armpit, I mean armchair opinions and put them where they belong. Hint.....not on the website to read.
07/18/2014 10:54AM
"Tank You"
Contract is not really a big deal. As some one shared above, this gives Sabres time to groom some of the Center prospects, while also keeping the Sabres this year above the salary floor should they decide to move Tyler Myers (which I don't want to happen. The theme for 14 - 15 is "Tank You". The goal is either #1 or #2 pick overall in the 2015 draft.
07/18/2014 12:00PM
Back Off
Give the kid a chance. As the team developes they will need some scoring Ennis can contribute 20-30 goals this season. End of story.
07/18/2014 12:34PM
Yes to all
But he's good on the milk commercials, way to go Walmart
07/18/2014 2:01PM
I feel fine
Ennis is a good player, and now we have him under contract. I trust what GMTM is doing. None of us fans know if it's an appropriate contract or not. We should leave it to the people that get paid to make those decisions. I know this is a forum to voice our opinions, but where's the patience? There's so much more to be done. Can't we wait and see what happens in the next 2 to 3 years instead of 2 to 3 hours before making final judgments? Relax. You'll feel better if you do.
07/19/2014 3:43PM
The foolishness continues
this organization continues to b "married" to their draft picks regardless of who the GM is. Paying Ennis that kind of money is ridiculous and on the verge of criminal. He robbed money from this team. I dont blame him for grabbing the money. Ifthe Sabres want to continue "blowing" and "throwing" money away for very marginal players than good for them. My only question is, can I get in line and grab some of that money being spent foolishly?
07/21/2014 10:02AM
Now that he is signed...Let's trade him!!!
07/29/2014 12:47PM
why ? why ? why ?
Why is Drewy and Doormatt still here??
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