That is the date I started closely monitoring Nathan Gerbe’s progress. I admit, I was convinced he was going to be a great player for the Buffalo Sabres – I just had no idea it would take so long.
Way back in training camp in ’08, Jason Cipolla of the Rochester Americans, who was with the Sabres organization at that time, was also impressed. “You can’t believe how good he is,” he marvelled over the marvelous 5-5 (but 173 pound) Gerbe.
Gerbs was named the AHL Rookie of the Year for the 2008-09 season, after scoring 30 goals and 26 assists for 56 points in just 57 games played.
For some reason, his success in the AHL didn’t translate to the NHL, until now. Give Lindy Ruff a lot of credit for sticking with this guy, because he is really paying dividends now: he had 1 goal in first 41 games this season, but has 11 in the last 32 games.
His incredible pace over the last 27 games has him tied with Daniel Sedin for the most goals scored in the NHL over that span.
On January 21st, “Nate the Grate” scored 2 goals in just 5 seconds, set a franchise record, and had me thinking “he’s finally here.”
Still, I wasn’t sold on him just yet. Heck, I haven’t been sold on any of the Sabres this season, which is the main reason why I haven’t purchased one of those gorgeous alternate jerseys yet. I haven’t been able to trust any of the players enough to make an investment like that. Then, Gerbe did this (hit the 2:15 mark of the video):
Outstanding. If he had to, he would have taken out all 5 of those Canadiens players on the way out of his own end and to the empty net. It’s zone work like that which has earned him a +9 on the season. Heck, I can’t remember an empty net goal that was so hard fought, and so well earned.
Now I just need to wait until the Sabres lock him up – Gerbe is a RFA at the end of the season, joining Stafford, Sekera, Butler, Weber, and Enroth on that list. It’s hard to imagine that the Sabres will be able to ink them all, with both Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis becoming RFAs after next season. Reiger is going to be a very busy man trying to work it all out.
If Reiger does work it out with Gerbe, then he can rest assured that the HSBC Arena will be selling at least one more alternate jersey.