I've been thinking about how I was going to go about this entry for quite a while now, but I feel that it's finally necessary, whether or not I want to write it, or whether or not I know how to do it.
Really, though, where has Daniel Paille disappeared to? (Do I really need to put this picture on the side of all milk cartons in Buffalo?)
I mean, last season, he was our diamond in the rough. He played in 77 games, had 19 goals and 16 assists, and finished a plus-nine. He showed great potential as being a guy who would go into the corners, battle with the opposition, and he showed signs of playing without fear.
Aside from the first month of the season, I haven't noticed him on the ice, and that worries me.
At the start of the season, Paille came storming out of the gates in a presence-sense, hitting everything in sight. That tapered off in a matter of games, surprising for a guy who was voted the hardest checker in the OHL back in the day.
That, however, is not the only upsetting thing about number 20. What is? The fact that he has been wildly inconsistent and unreliable is what worries me.
In October, he only registered points in four games. Paille had one goal and four assists for the month, and was a plus-one. This was across the Sabres' 10 games. That's not that bad, considering that he produced an average .5 points per game, which would land him a pace of 40 points for the season.
November, though, was a travesty. Dan missed two of the Sabres' 13 games in the month, one as a healthy scratch up in Boston (Nov. 8), and the other (also against Boston, on Nov. 26) due to illness (the flu). So he played in 11 games, in which he put up points in three, leaving him with one goal and two assists on the month. He was also a minus-three. That's a terrible performance, if you ask me. I like to judge a player's offensive production by averages of points per game, if you hadn't noticed, because I think just goals or just assists doesn't tell the whole story. But Dan's tells a very scary story, because in November, he was only at .27 points per game. Yeah. Enough said.
The month of December was hardly better to Paille. Appearing in all 14 games for the team, Dan only racked up two goals and two assists, those coming in three games. A minus-three on the month, Paille's points per game stat sat at .29.
Thus far in January, Paille has played in the Sabres' four games. He had an assist in only one of those games, putting his points per game at .25, and he's at an even zero on the plus/minus.
What does that leave him at for the season? Well, after 39 games, Paille has four goals and nine assists, totaling for 13 points, that's .33 points per game. And he's at a minus-five. Pace for the season? At this rate, he'll appear in 80 games, and his stats will improve to eight goals and 18 assists, for 26 points (still only .33 per game), and finish at a minus-five.
How do I feel about this?
You all should know by now that I am a Daniel Paille fan. If you don't, you do now. I really took a liking to him last season, but thus far in 2008-09, I'm not impressed at all. I should definitely be seeing more from a first-round draft pick, especially when he tore up the OHL. This, however, is about the level he produced at in Rochester while there.
I think, though, if someone needs to be packaged up in a trade to clear some room, or to Maxim Afinogenov look more appealing to other teams, Paille would be the guy I would send, as much as it would break my heart. Many people would say Drew Stafford would be a better guy to send packing, but Stafford is doing well on a line with Derek Roy. I'd leave him alone. Paille has struggled all year, and that could just be a general struggle.
But can we really afford to have a guy who is supposed to be one of our more gritty lower-scoring forwards on our team? It could be a deal-breaker if we're fighting for a playoff spot come March. That's all I'm saying...
Alas, Kim and I will be joining the other bloggers down at Casa di Pizza tonight for the game, as she mentioned last night. It will most definitely be a good time, and hopefully the Sabres will finally be able to solve Ty Conklin. I'm really sick of him having our number. Let's get his for a change, eh?