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SYLVESTER'S BLOG: BIG WEEK AHEAD

Tuesday, 10.27.2009 / 2:35 PM / Blogs - Kevin Sylvester
By Kevin Sylvester  - Sabres "Hockey Hotline" Host
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SYLVESTER\'S BLOG: BIG WEEK AHEAD
Tyler Myers (Photo: Bill Wippert)
This is a big week for Tyler Myers

He could potentially play his last game of the season for the Sabres on Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils.

That sounds absolutely absurd given what he’s done on the ice so far this season, however the business of hockey may mean it makes sense. 

If he stays (my opinion to come later), then he becomes a restricted free agent at age 22, an unrestricted free agent at age 25.  The question you have to ask and project is this, “would you rather have Tyler Myers at age 19 or age 26?” 

The simple answer is at age 26 because he projects to be a much better hockey player then and if his contract term doesn’t start this year, a much cheaper one than the free-agent version. 

On the flip side of that is this: he projects to be better then, because he’s already good now.  By keeping him, the Sabres are gaining this year of play ahead of schedule. 

Here comes the opinion part: there is no chance he gets sent back to Kelowna and doesn’t stay on the roster. 

The Sabres could keep him here to practice, pay him and not play him to keep three years remaining on the contract.  However, you could argue that he has been the Sabres best defenseman (Craig Rivet even said it on Monday), so that doesn’t make any sense.  The team is winning, the kid is good, and I wouldn’t mess with it.  The big thing is not to overwhelm him now with the weight of winning, the city, and overzealous expectations thanks to the 6-1-1 start. 

Myers stat line is impressive, two goals, three assists, a plus-eight rating and a shootout, game-winning goal. 

He was a fan favorite before he even played a regular season shift.  Fans, with good reason, believe he’s the next Chris Pronger, Jay Bouwmeester, or Zdeno Chara.  All three are big defenseman that can dominate.  Myers is not at that level yet, but I looked into how he compares with those three this early in their careers. 

Pronger started with the Hartford Whalers back in the 1993-94 season after being selected 2nd overall, after Ottawa choked on Alexander Daigle.   Pronger lived up to the hype on the ice with five goals 25 assists and a minus-3 rating, but had problems off the ice with a few arrests. 

Jay Bouwmeester was also a high draft choice, 3rd overall in 2002 by the Florida Panthers, and played for the team that season.  His first eight games saw a stat line of zero goals, one assist and a minus-three rating.  For the season Bouwmeester scored four goals, 12 assists and was minus-29. 

Zdeno Chara was not a high draft choice, 56th overall by the Islanders in 1996, and had some early career struggles.  He made is NHL debut for the Isles during the 1997-98 season with a November call up.  He played six games during that stretch and had no goals, no assists and was plus-2.  Chara returned from the AHL in March to play the final 19 games of the season and recorded just one assist and finished his 25 games with zero goals, one assist and a minus-one rating. 

So what does all this mean for Tyler Myers?  He’s off to a great start, but eight games do not make a career or a season. 

He’s fun to watch and it’s exciting to have a young player show so much promise so early in his career.  We don’t know how good he will be, but we do know he’s good enough to stick around and find out. 

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