This is Part 1 of an eight-part series of questions about the Sabres that many people have been wondering about over the offseason.
Without a doubt, the Sabres have some very small players on their team. While in recent drafts they've been drafting bigger players to compensate, their present team still lacks a little size up front, more than people would probably like.
The best examples of this theory fall upon two rookies expected to make the big club this year.
Tyler Ennis, drafted 26th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has already made one heck of a professional career in his one season in the AHL. Ennis started off slow in his first year with the Portland Pirates, the Sabres AHL affiliate. However, he slowly found his scoring touch and wound up winning the AHL Rookie of the Year award with 23 goals and 65 points in 69 games.
Ennis played so well in the AHL that also was called up at the end of the season for the Sabres, playing in 10 regular season games, registering three goals and nine points. In the playoffs, he had four points in six games.
While Ennis put up wonderful statistics, the one thing that may put him down is his overall size. The Sabres' roster has Ennis as a 5'9", 163 pounds. center. That's fairly small for an NHL player, but certainly hasn't stopped some people in the NHL, like Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Another up-and-coming rookie, Nathan Gerbe stands at 5'5" and 160 pounds. Despite his size, Gerbe has put up good stats in his time in the AHL, earning him Rookie of the Year honors in Portland, just like Tyler Ennis did a year after him.
Gerbe spent a good portion of his time injured last season in Portland, but still was able to grab 38 points in 44 games. In the 10 games that he played for the Sabres last season, he scored two goals and five points. He also had two points in four games in the playoffs.
The size challenges don't stop there. Derek Roy, a perennial 60-70 point player, stands only at 5'10", weighing 191 pounds.
There are also players that actually size up pretty well, but the way these players play, it would seem that they have no size whatsoever. Drew Stafford, a right winger who measures up to 6'1" and 216 pounds seems like he has no desire to use that size in his play, whatsoever.
While the Sabres seemingly have a small roster, does it really matter?
The Montreal Canadiens made a playoff run last year with players like Mike Camalleri, Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanic, and Tom Pyatt, who all stand below six feet tall. However, many put it on the Canadiens defense, who have not one player standing below six feet tall, and a hot goaltender in Jaroslav Halak as to why they made such a deep run.
The Sabres seemingly are building to this formula. None of the Sabres starting six defensman fall below six feet tall, nor do they weigh less than 200 pounds. The Sabres have one of the best starting goalies in the league in Ryan Miller, who won a Vezina Trophy this past year.
Plus, beyond Roy, Ennis, and Gerbe, everyone else on the team is at least six feet tall, and at least 185 pounds. Many of these players use the low weights as a speed advantage. The Sabres have made it clear that if any team wants to go up and down the ice with them, they'll win 9-out-of-10 times that way.
At this point, it is not a lack of size on this team that is holding the Sabres back. It could just be a lack of passion.