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30 in 30: Revival by Myers could be Sabres' X-factor

Friday, 08.16.2013 / 10:41 AM / Features
By Davis Harper  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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30 in 30: Revival by Myers could be Sabres\' X-factor
A former Calder Trophy winner who has fallen on hard times, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers is committed to reviving his career in 2013-14 and helping his team get back to the postseason.

On the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, an "outstanding personal achievement" ranks among the most stressful events an adult can face.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers knows all about outstanding personal achievement and the stress that comes with it. In 2009-10, Myers became one of a select group of defensemen to win the Calder Trophy and his team won the Northeast Division. A rabid fan base deemed the 19-year-old the future of the franchise, and the organization responded in the summer of 2011 by signing him to a seven-year, $38.5 million deal.

Myers' star then fell as quickly as it rose.

Myers, who at 6-foot-8, 227 pounds is a rare combination of size and skill, endured a minor sophomore slump that extended into a deep malaise by the time the 2012-13 season, his fourth in the NHL, rolled around.

Myers has yet to match his Calder numbers (11 goals, 37 assists, plus-13 rating) in the three seasons since. The nadir of his nosedive can be traced to Feb. 9, when coach Lindy Ruff made Myers, at that point a team-worst minus-9, a healthy scratch for a weekend back-to-back against the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins.

Myers' numbers did not balloon after the benching -- he finished the season with three goals, five assists and a minus-8 rating in 39 games -- but his confidence and commitment grew. Now, following some organizational moves and carrying a new sense of personal responsibility, Myers is poised to surge again in 2013-14.

First, the Sabres fired Ruff and promoted noted talent developer Ron Rolston from Rochester of the American Hockey League on Feb. 20. Rolston was charged with nurturing Buffalo's stable of young players and prospects, with Myers one of his most pressing projects. After Buffalo removed the interim tag from Rolston on May 7, Myers expressed excitement at developing under the coach.

"For me, I thought it went really well with Ron the way we communicated with each other," Myers told WGR 550 radio. "He was really positive with me, and the bottom line is I've got to be a lot better than I was this year. I think Ron helped out with that since he came in, I thought I got better towards the end of the year."

In the offseason, Buffalo traded a minor-league forward to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who partnered with Myers during his Calder-winning season. The organization no doubt hopes the veteran can anchor Myers as he did three seasons ago.

On a personal level, Myers told reporters at season's end that he planned to spend part of the offseason in Buffalo to work on his conditioning, diet and overall discipline. A common knock against Myers is his tendency for slow starts, and the organization is hopeful this individual focus and development will help its high-earning star out of the gate.

The good news is that at 23 years old, Myers is young for an NHL defenseman, and he has been far more productive in his first seasons than the star to which he is most often compared, Zdeno Chara. Like Chara at his age, Myers is growing into his frame and learning how to use his size on both sides of the puck.

Due to his lavish contract and the youth of the Sabres, Myers will remain under the microscope in Buffalo. Rolston told NHL.com he planned to give prospects a chance in training camp and wouldn't hesitate to shuffle the lineup at any point in 2013-14. With so many young players potentially rotating into First Niagara Center, consistent production, energy and maturity from Myers will be paramount to his team's success.

Rolston acknowledged Myers' importance in a press conference this summer.

"I think he understands where he needs to go and the growth he needs to have here, especially in the summer to get himself prepared for being an elite defenseman and one of the best defensemen in this league, which he's been before, we know he can be next year," Rolston said. "But a lot of that's going to come in the preparation and his growth over the summer, just to continue to obviously, one, work on his body, and then, two, just make sure he's just simplifying things and playing within himself.

"And when that happens, he's going to be a dominant player for us next year."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82