Buffalo - August 12, 2014 - We’re still about two months out from actual NHL hockey (the horror!), so there’s still a lot of time and boredom left to deal with.
As a Sabres fan, there isn’t a ton to look forward to even when the season starts. Instead, the eye is constantly towards the future. Everyone knows the Sabres aren’t winning any time soon, but the good part of being so bad is that they have a plethora of talented youngsters who will theoretically turn the Sabres into a Stanley Cup contender for many years to come.
We’ll take a look at the top prospects in the Sabres system and all of the dirty details on each, continuing today with one of the top offensive prospects in the system and the elusive power forward: Joel Armia.
How we got him: Selected with the 16th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Comparable Sabre of the Past: Drew Stafford. Both are big-bodied power forwards with the kind of hands that can net you 25-30 goals. Hopefully, the effort level is there more consistently for Armia than it has been for Stafford, but having a guy with the mentality to go to the net and finish who can actually finish is always a good thing to have.
Why he may be awesome: He’s got the body (6’2”, 190) to fend off defenders, win battles along the wall and in the corner, and cause havoc in front of the net. Power forwards don’t grow on trees and Armia has the typical power forward frame.
Additionally, he’s got the kind of skill that has dazzled scouts. He has held his own playing with Assat Pori in the Finnish league; a men’s league with players much older, stronger and more experienced than he is. His scoring has earned him comparisons to Jeff Carter.
Ultimately, he’s got the skills to be a very productive player in Buffalo and the hands to become a consistent 20-25 goal scorer on the low end.
Why he may not be so great: Like Stafford, there are a ton of questions about his effort. Bruins Draft Watch compared him to Mikko Lehtonen, who scored goals but played as if he didn’t really care much.
His size/skill package was clearly intriguing, but you have to wonder just high he could have gone if there were a consistent effort on his part. His defensive game is questionable at best, but as a winger, that can be tweaked. Still, the effort questions are huge.
Ceiling: Moderate. It’s easy to be tantalized by skill sets and sniper abilities, but I have to think a player with a questionable motor is always going to be a player with a questionable motor. Like Stafford, he might be able to turn it on when he wants to earn himself a new deal, but he seems like he’ll never be the best he can be.
General excitement level: Low. This has dropped over the last couple of years. He was a project with effort issues at the time of his selection, but getting hurt last year put an even bigger damper on things and makes one think about whether or not he’ll have any noticeable impact at the NHL level.
What to expect: He’ll likely get a shot in camp to make the roster, but end up in Rochester for more seasoning this year. Until he can develop some consistency to his game, he’s going to be on the outside looking in.
Follow me on Twitter: @2PSBlog