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#1 \GoBillsInDallas/

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 09:58 AM

It's not available online. Enjoy!

Dubuque's Girgensons signs with Buffalo Sabres

BY JIM LEITNER
DUBUQUE TIMES HERALD SPORTS EDITOR
Posted: Saturday, July 14, 2012 12:00 am

The Latvian Locomotive will make its next stop in Western New York.
Dubuque Fighting Saints captain Zemgus Girgensons , the 14th overall selection in last month's NHL Draft, on Friday signed a three-year entry level contract with the Buffalo Sabres. If he does not make the parent club out of training camp in September, the 6-foot-1, 198-pound center from Riga, Latvia, will be assigned to the Rochester (N.Y.) Americans of the American Hockey League.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but Saints coach Jim Montgomery said, "It's a very good contract. They're treating him like a top-five pick."
It was enough to sway Girgensons away from a scholarship at the University of Vermont. "I would like to thank Coach (Kevin) Sneddon and his staff for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to play for UVM," Girgensons said. "This was a very difficult decision for me, to say the least. I always felt that the NCAA was the best way for me to develop on and off the ice.
"But, after attending the Sabres' camp, and learning of their plans for me, I feel I am ready to begin my professional career."
Girgensons excelled at the rookie orientation camp this week despite a rigorous schedule, which included a daily 4:30 a.m. wake-up call and training with Navy SEALs. The camp included recent draft picks as well as players in the Sabres' minor league system. "It definitely was a challenge," he said. "You're only getting five good hours of sleep each night, you're up early, and you're playing against a lot of professionals every day, so your head is kind of buzzing in practice.
"I thought I did all right, even though I was one of the youngest guys there. I wanted to show them what Fighting Saint hockey is all about, and I think I did that in the scrimmage."
Girgensons spent the past two seasons in Dubuque and scored 104 points in 100 career games. He helped the Saints to the 2011 Clark Cup championship and served as captain this season, when he led Dubuque in scoring with 55 points, including 24 goals, in 49 games. Girgensons also represented Latvia in the past two World Junior Championships.
A member of the 2011-12 all-USHL first team, Girgensons became the highest-drafted Latvian player in the NHL history, and the highest-drafted player in Saints history. According to USHL director of communications Brian Werger, no first-round draft pick has gone directly from the USHL to the NHL.
"It takes a special young man to do this, but, as the fans in Dubuque have seen the past two years, Zemgus has the physical and mental maturity of a professional already," Montgomery said. "He's ready for the NHL. He's such a special young man, he would have achieved this because of his will, no matter where he played.
"But we take an enormous amount of pride in the fact that he did it as a Dubuque Fighting Saint. He gave us everything he had every day he played for us. I see Zemgus winning a lot of championships in his lifetime. Obviously, that's very tough to do in the professional ranks. But he's the type of player you win championships with."
Girgensons credited Dubuque for putting him in this position. "I had an unbelievable experience the last two years with Monty and all of my teammates," he said. "I can't say enough good things about Monty and all the work he put into me and the organization."
Girgensons impressed the Sabres' brass this week. He scored a highlight-reel goal in the camp-ending scrimmage between the top prospects in the organization. "I think he's physically ready," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said Thursday night. "Sometimes, you're concerned about younger players. But he already has a man body. He's strong enough to handle the heavy bodies down there. He loves to hit. He likes to play physical. He scored a heck of a goal tonight. It looks like he could be ready."
Girgensons plans to train in Buffalo for the next two months so he can train with players in the system before training camp. "Where I play this year is all up to me and how fast I can adjust to becoming a pro," Girgensons said. "I'm training here because I want to be as ready as possible for camp in September."
Girgensons committed to Vermont after playing for the nearby Green Mountain Glades, of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, in 2009-10. Catamounts coach Kevin Sneddon and Girgensons announced the signing Friday morning, hours before the Sabres planned a press conference.
"Throughout the recruiting process, Zemgus has been very loyal to UVM, turning down offers to play major junior hockey as well as Russia's premier professional league, the KHL, in order to maintain his goal of playing for the Catamounts," Sneddon said. "We have stated often that if we are going to lose Zemgus, we hope it's to the NHL team that selects him in the draft.
"Buffalo feels confident that Zemgus can play for them this year as well as with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. We support Zemgus and wish him the best of luck as he begins his professional career with Buffalo."
Girgensons became the first Saints player to sign an NHL contract since the team returned to the USHL in 2010-11. Six former Saints - Gary Suter, Chris Ferraro, Peter Ferraro, Mark Mowers, Landon Wilson and Andy Wozniewski - have played in the NHL, and all are honored with a larger-than-life banner at Mystique Ice Center.

#2 inkman

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 10:50 AM

Based on the level of competition and his numbers, I'd be surprised if Ziggy's numbers ever eclipse 15g 40p. I think he'll be an NHL player just not very prolific. Guys who put up 50+ goals and 100 points in major junior don't equate to much more than 20 goal scorers in the NHL. If he is a solid two way player who is physical and chips in 15 goals I'll be thrilled. Just not sure if the rest of Sabres nation has tempered their expectations.

#3 Huckleberry

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 10:52 AM

well yeah i see him as a solid third line center, and go to PK man.

#4 We've

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 11:06 AM

My initial reaction to Girgs camp and what I've read so far is, solid 3rd line center with 2nd line as possible if a bit unlikely top end. But I am envisioning this guy developing a Joel Otto/ Bobby Holik sort of role.

#5 Robviously

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 11:06 AM

Based on the level of competition and his numbers, I'd be surprised if Ziggy's numbers ever eclipse 15g 40p. I think he'll be an NHL player just not very prolific. Guys who put up 50+ goals and 100 points in major junior don't equate to much more than 20 goal scorers in the NHL. If he is a solid two way player who is physical and chips in 15 goals I'll be thrilled. Just not sure if the rest of Sabres nation has tempered their expectations.

I think power forwards are a bit different in this regard though. The CHL (not Girgensons' league but same concept) has plenty of guys who put up tons of points but don't ever make the NHL (or even get drafted). That's because their skill set is ideal for a league full of 16 to 20 year olds but won't really translate at higher levels. GIrgensons' size and strength should translate really well to the NHL (maybe not as an 18 year old but he's still growing).

I think it's really interesting that the most goals Milan Lucic ever scored in juniors was 30, and that he never managed to average a point per game at that level. Yet he quickly became a star player in the NHL. Hopefully Girgensons follows a smiler path and brings way more offense than people anticipated.

(We could also probably merge this thread with the big Girgensons thread we started on draft day.)

#6 dudacek

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 11:07 AM

My initial reaction to Girgs camp and what I've read so far is, solid 3rd line center with 2nd line as possible if a bit unlikely top end. But I am envisioning this guy developing a Joel Otto/ Bobby Holik sort of role.


I agree. But the Rod Brind'Amour comparisons are pretty ###### enticing.

#7 TrueBlueGED

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 12:30 PM

I think Girgensons' absolute top-end is a Ryan Kesler type of player. Obviously trying to figure out exactly what a prospect will end up being is at best a guessing game, but I'd be really surprised if Girgensons amounted to anything less than a stud 3rd line center.

#8 Sabres Fan In NS

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 02:49 PM

He certainly has the one thing absolutely needed for success ... the determination.

I, for one, can't wait for him to show that trait in a Sabres uniform.

I think he will end up being an exceptional 3rd line centre in about 5 years ... behind Grigorenko and Hodgson.

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 04:18 PM

He certainly has the one thing absolutely needed for success ... the determination.

I, for one, can't wait for him to show that trait in a Sabres uniform.

I think he will end up being an exceptional 3rd line centre in about 5 years ... behind Grigorenko and Hodgson.


What about Ennis?

#10 Sabres Fan In NS

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 04:27 PM

What about Ennis?


If he is still on the team in 5 years I believe he will be on the wing.

Don't get me wrong. I think Ennis is a good centre, but if the 2 G's and H develop as I think they will, Ennis will not be playing centre.

#11 Briere48

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 05:00 PM

Based on the level of competition and his numbers, I'd be surprised if Ziggy's numbers ever eclipse 15g 40p. I think he'll be an NHL player just not very prolific. Guys who put up 50+ goals and 100 points in major junior don't equate to much more than 20 goal scorers in the NHL. If he is a solid two way player who is physical and chips in 15 goals I'll be thrilled. Just not sure if the rest of Sabres nation has tempered their expectations.


He actually had pretty solid stats for the USHL standards.

49 points in 51 games in year 1.
55 points in 49 games in year 2.

Some others who played in USHL... Kyle Okposo 58 points in 50 games in his only season there.
TJ Oshie... 5 points in 11 games.
Paul Stastny... 30 points in 57 in year 1, 77 in 56 in year 2.
Thomas Vanek... 33 in 35 in year 1, 29 in 20 in year 2.

#12 inkman

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 05:05 PM

Well, let's hope his game translates like those you mentioned Vanek-Man. I'm sure there are many other players who fizzled.

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 07:03 PM

If he is still on the team in 5 years I believe he will be on the wing.

Don't get me wrong. I think Ennis is a good centre, but if the 2 G's and H develop as I think they will, Ennis will not be playing centre.


Ennis's wing play was not very good this year. Who knows which one(s) will not meet the level of play many hope they'll reach. Ennis was red hot at the center position when the Sabres went on a run for the playoffs.

#14 drnkirishone

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 07:08 PM

Ennis has a better chance of success under Ruff at center then he does on wing. I think the 2 most likely targets to shift to wings in the future are Hodgson (unless his skating has improved) and Grigs (moving up to a top 6 spot)

#15 Eleven

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 07:28 PM

Ennis has a better chance of success under Ruff at center then he does on wing. I think the 2 most likely targets to shift to wings in the future are Hodgson (unless his skating has improved) and Grigs (moving up to a top 6 spot)


Ennis has a better chance under anyone at center, since that is what he is.

#16 nfreeman

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 07:56 PM

He actually had pretty solid stats for the USHL standards.

49 points in 51 games in year 1.
55 points in 49 games in year 2.

Some others who played in USHL... Kyle Okposo 58 points in 50 games in his only season there.
TJ Oshie... 5 points in 11 games.
Paul Stastny... 30 points in 57 in year 1, 77 in 56 in year 2.
Thomas Vanek... 33 in 35 in year 1, 29 in 20 in year 2.


Good info. Thanks.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know why Vanek's USHL seasons were shorter than Girgy's and Stastny's?

#17 Eleven

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 08:03 PM

Good info. Thanks.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know why Vanek's USHL seasons were shorter than Girgy's and Stastny's?


Googled it about seven different ways and cannot come up with an answer; suspect you did, too.

#18 carpandean

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 08:07 PM

This help?

#19 Eleven

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 08:10 PM

This help?


Wish it did. It certainly states that his seasons were shorter; it doesn't explain why.

Maybe the USHL had shorter seasons back then?

#20 carpandean

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 08:18 PM

Wish it did. It certainly states that his seasons were shorter; it doesn't explain why.


:blush: Oops, read that too quickly. Thought it said "if", not "why". I read Vanek-Man's earlier post back when he made it, so I forgot that it had the actual game numbers in it, not just the goals/points.

#21 qwksndmonster

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 08:34 PM

If he is still on the team in 5 years I believe he will be on the wing.

Don't get me wrong. I think Ennis is a good centre, but if the 2 G's and H develop as I think they will, Ennis will not be playing centre.

Too many centers is a good thing. Let's not worry about it until they develop and it actually needs to be dealt with.

#22 Taro T

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 09:01 PM

Wish it did. It certainly states that his seasons were shorter; it doesn't explain why.

Maybe the USHL had shorter seasons back then?

They were shorter, but only by 2 games (58 vs 60), so that doesn't appear to be the reason.

Not sure why he played so few games for them in '00-'01 but he apparently played 14 games for the Ra-cha-cha Junior Amerks in '99-'00 according to HockeyDB. I'd assume that those games came prior to playing in the USHL, but no data on that count.

Vanek's bio says he did play for Sioux Falls HS, my guess is one of 4 things kept his playing time so limited in '00-'01:

1. that he wasn't allowed to play for the Stampede during the HS season;

2. that when games conflicted he had to play for his 'primary' team preferentially and it was the HS team;

3. he was injured; or less likely

4. there was a game limit placed on younger players by the league (he'd've been 16 at the start of his 1st season w/ the Stampede).


PS - His 3rd season w/ the Stampede he played in 53 games and also played in the WJC's (which you probably already knew).

PPS - Ooops, I misread attended O'Gorman as played at O'Gorman. :doh: For '00-'01, as Emily Lutella would say 'nevermind.'

Edited by Taro T, 15 July 2012 - 09:18 PM.


#23 Eleven

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 09:03 PM

They were shorter, but only by 2 games (58 vs 60), so that doesn't appear to be the reason.

Not sure why he played so few games for them in '00-'01 but he apparently played 14 games for the Ra-cha-cha Junior Amerks in '99-'00 according to HockeyDB. I'd assume that those games came prior to playing in the USHL, but no data on that count.

Vanek's bio says he did play for Sioux Falls HS, my guess is one of 4 things kept his playing time so limited in '00-'01:

1. that he wasn't allowed to play for the Stampede during the HS season;

2. that when games conflicted he had to play for his 'primary' team preferentially and it was the HS team;

3. he was injured; or less likely

4. there was a game limit placed on younger players by the league (he'd've been 16 at the start of his 1st season w/ the Stampede).


It's '00-'01 that is the aberration, I think. Since there was no Internet then, and only the Marconi wireless (ok, seriously, there wasn't any GOOD internet then), my bet is that we have to deal with the mystery.

#24 Andrew Amerk

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 08:34 AM

I believe Vanek only played half of the first season because they were allowing him to adjust to hockey here.

I know that he was injured his 2nd season there, so that explains the limited games in year 2.