Over the next few days, I will be looking at each team n the NHL and identifying a couple of players in particular that fit into one of two categories based on the once popular kids game, Chutes and Ladders. The players in the “chutes” category will be players who exceeded expectations last season, and will have a difficult time avoiding a slide in the coming season. The “ladder” category will consist of players who are ready to climb a level in their play and step up a notch.
Chutes: Thomas Vanek – the Austrain is coming off what has been his best offensive season, but the fact is that most of the offense will have to go through him if the Sabres are going to have any chance to succeed. I don’t know that he is up to that pressure, and combined with the pressure that the Austrians will place on him as their most dangerous offensive player in the Olympics, might be too much for one man to bear. I expect he will still be good, but not to the point-per-game level.
Ladders: Tyler Myers – Myers has been in full regress mode since he won the Calder Trophy in 2009-10. The Sabres need Myers to turn it around, and the sooner the better for their franchise to get back to the playoffs. He is a highly paid component of the Sabres blue line and they can ill afford to have another sub-par season from their big blueliner. He can’t get much worse, so the only way to go is up!