Joel Armia Must Be Properly Used by Buffalo Sabres from the Very Start

Dave EmkeContributor IIINovember 11, 2013

Joel Armia will likely make his Buffalo Sabres debut soon.
Joel Armia will likely make his Buffalo Sabres debut soon.

The Buffalo Sabres roster is about to get even younger, and—we hope—a little more talented.

Monday afternoon, the Sabres posted this photo to their Twitter feed:

Armia nameplate / stall added to locker room. #Sabres pic.twitter.com/tk0XHyTQg8

— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 11, 2013

The veiled announcement brings questions, as the most recent news the Sabres organization has officially released about Armia is that he would be assigned to the Rochester Americans once his injured hand healed.

“We’ll probably send him down, he’s got to play some games." Sabres coach Ron Rolston told WGR 550 last week. "It would be tough throwing him right into this league.”

Armia suffered a broken hand during the preseason. He was officially sent to Rochester on Nov. 5, but has yet to play for the Amerks.

The Sabres' first-round draft pick (16th overall) in 2011, the 20-year-old Armia has a lot of offensive upside. Playing for Assat in the Finnish Elite League for the past three seasons, Armia scored 55 goals in 149 regular season games. His highlight reel from the 2012-13 season shows some fancy stickwork and the ability to fire a quick and accurate wrister.

On a Sabres team that is looking toward the future and desperately needs scoring, seeing what Armia is capable of at the NHL level will be a good indicator of where the team will go in seasons to come.

If he is relegated to a fourth line, though—as 2012 first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko has been for much of his short career—and his growth is stunted from an early age, a quick ascension to the NHL could be the worst thing possible for the young player.

Whenever Armia makes his debut with the Sabres, the franchise and its fans must hope that he comes out of the gate with a flash rather than a fizzle. Rolston and the rest of the coaching staff have the opportunity to, at least partially, direct that with how he is utilized. On a line with other talented young players, such as the woefully misused Grigorenko or Zemgus Girgensons, he may have a chance to make highlights—and a difference—immediately.


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