In the second half of the 2010-11 season, Nathan Gerbe
emerged as a critical member of the Buffalo Sabres, and the forward was rewarded on Wednesday as he agreed to terms on a multi-year deal with the Sabres.
|Photo: Bill Wippert |
In 2010-11, Gerbe’s his first full NHL season, the 5-foot-5 forward recorded 16 goals, 15 assists, 31 points, a +11 rating and 34 penalty minutes in 64 games for Buffalo. He also scored two power play goals and three game-winners. He finished the regular season ranked sixth on the team in goals and 10th in points despite missing eight games with a broken jaw and not dressing for 10 other contests. The Sabres were 10-1-2 on the season when Gerbe scored a goal and 19-2-4 when he collected at least one point.
“I think this organization is doing a lot of great things and I’m happy to be a part of it and hopefully can play a crucial part of it and hopefully can elevate my game and help this team out any way I can,” Gerbe said on Wednesday. "Just to be a part of everything is pretty special with this group of players and the management staff.”
After being a healthy scratch on multiple occasions during the first half of the season, Gerbe dressed for all but one of the team’s final 41 games. He scored one goal in Buffalo’s first 41 games of the season – of which he appeared in 24 – before exploding in the second half of the season, recording 15 goals and nine assists. His 15 second-half goals ranked third on the team behind only Buffalo’s top two goal-scorers on the season, Thomas Vanek
(17 second-half goals) and Drew Stafford
(16 second-half goals). Gerbe also recorded a +10 rating during the second half as the team went 25-11-5 in that span.
“I think Nathan has a tremendous amount of potential that we began to see in the second half of the season,” said General Manager Darcy Regier. “He’s always been a goal scorer; I think he’ll continue to be a goal scorer and I think the sky is the limit for him.”
While he got off to a slow start, Gerbe used it as a learning experience and was able to emerge as one of Buffalo’s most dangerous offensive players in the second half.
“I think playing a full season, you learn a ton, especially about yourself. You learn that there’s going to be tough stretches, but you have to fight your way out of it. I keep working everyday to try and get better and I think good things happen when you do that… I had a lot of help around me from guys like Kevyn Adams and the all coaches helped me tremendously throughout the year and I was able to get some confidence.”
Gerbe excited Sabres fans throughout the season with his feisty, determined style of play. Whether it was scoring two goals in five seconds – a franchise record – against the Islanders, scoring a highlight reel goal against the Flyers to essentially clinch a playoff spot, scoring both goals in a critical 2-0 win at Montreal, or drawing penalties at key times in games, Gerbe proved he is willing to do whatever is necessary to help the team win.
In the postseason, Gerbe scored two goals while appearing in all seven of Buffalo’s games against Philadelphia. Although the Sabres came up short, Gerbe said it’s motivation for next season.
“I’ve never been through a playoff series like that but it just makes me more excited to get it going for next year. I think the playoffs are the best time of the year and there’s nothing like it. There’s also nothing like winning, so if we could put that together it would be awesome.”