At some point a player’s unfilled upside turns into wasted talent; this has happened to a lot of professional athletes. This potential career path seems relevant when discussing Zemgus Girgensons.
No one is disputing that Girgensons has the ability to succeed at the NHL level. He possesses excellent size, physicality and versatility, along with the capability to be a good two-way player.
However, the Riga, Latvia native has now played more than six seasons with the Sabres. As a result, some critics are questioning if he will ever scale the heights with persuaded the team to select him 14th overall in the 2012 draft.
We appreciate there will be arguments against this take, given that Girgensons was actually having one of this better seasons prior to the 2019-20 campaign being suspended. Whether this was inspired by his new head coach or looming contract situation is unclear, but it doesn’t take away from his performances.
At the same time however, the 26-year-old still leaves you wanting more, best evidenced by just 19 points (12 goals and seven assists) in 69 regular season games. The question is, does he deserve another chance to prove he can make it in Buffalo?
As with Simmonds, one important aspect which will determine the answer is Girgensons’ aforementioned contract situation. He is on the books for $1.6 million this season, which is a figure the Sabres may be loathe to offer again.
Overall, you get the feeling the Sabres would like to give the center more time to show he belongs in Western New York. As long as he is prepared to take an offer closer to $1 million for next season (two seasons at a push), there is a good chance he will be back.
Chance of returning next season: 70 percent