Coming into training camp early this season, 19-year-old Tyler Myers wanted nothing more than a spot on the Buffalo Sabres’ regular season roster. Since playing in Buffalo’s season-opener against Montreal, the 6'8" Myers has not looked back.
Myers celebrated his 20th birthday on Monday by being named the NHL’s rookie of the month for January.
Myers, more affectionately known as “The Big Easy,” finished the month with four goals and six assists, good for second in points among rookies behind James van Riemsdyk of the Flyers and Rob Schremp of the Islanders, who both finished with 11 points.
He also led all rookies in ice-time for the month, averaging 24:42 per game—almost a full three minutes ahead of the next closest rookie.
The Sabres have prided themselves on being an evenly balanced, defensive-minded team this season, and Myers has quickly become the nucleus to the team’s defense.
Myers is being trusted to log some big minutes in every possible situation—even-strength, short-handed, power play—and the big guy is handling every situation better than most veterans could.
Myers is a large reason why the Sabres currently have the league’s second-best penalty-kill. He is doing his job on the power play too, as six of his 10 points in January came on the man-advantage.
The best way to put the amount of minutes Myers is playing each night into perspective would be to compare it with other players. He is currently averaging more ice-time than defensemen like Shea Weber of Nashville, Kimmo Timonen of Philadelphia, and Dion Phaneuf of Calgary, I mean, Toronto. (Sorry, that takes some getting used to.)
Myers is currently tied for third among rookies and tied for 13th among defensemen with 31 points. His 31 points are also two more than fellow giant and defending Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara. Myers also leads all rookies with 24 assists.
Being a defenseman should have made Myers’ rookie season that much tougher, but “The Big Easy” is making things look even easier in Buffalo and has made himself a front-runner for the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie.
“I mean, I do try not to think about it, but there is so much talk and you hear a lot of people and you hear your name and it’s really exciting,” Myers told NHL.com. “But at the same time, I’m trying to focus on what I have to do with the Sabres.”
If Myers continues with the pace he is on, a Calder Trophy might not be the only award he wins at the end of the season.