Now, the rookie defenseman says, the real work will begin.
As the 19 year old fielded questions about his future with the Buffalo Sabres, following GM Darcy Regier’s announcement that he would in fact remain in the NHL, his answers were constant:
“I don’t want to get too comfortable,” he said.
Because while he has impressed the coaching staff with five points (including a pair of goals), a plus-eight rating and a game-winning shootout tally in his first nine professional contests, he knows that adversity will undoubtedly surface throughout the course of a year. And complacency does not fit into his game plan.
“A good season isn’t just nine games,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff agreed. “It’s a grind and it’s grueling.
“We’ve used the term that he’s a little bit beyond his maturity when it comes to the way he’s played on the ice. But he’ll have some down times and I think it’s being able to support him through those [ups and downs].”
As Ruff warns, things are only going to get harder for the blueliner as opponents learn his tendencies.
“Teams didn’t have a scouting report on him. Teams didn’t have a chance to watch him play,” Ruff said. “They’ll focus in on what he does now and that’s going to make it tougher. That’s where a lot of the adjustments come.
“We’ve got to keep that level of play there.”
While Myers will have help from the likes of former NHL defenseman James Patrick and veteran Craig Rivet, Regier said his best resource may be his attitude.
“He’s an even keel young man and that’s one of the things we really like about him,” he said. “Whether he’s getting on the bus or the plane after a game, you’d be hard pressed to whether he had a great game or a poor game. He realizes that it’s a long road and he looks at the opportunity to play and get better.”
Although he is staying, the Sabres still have the option to return Myers to his junior team, the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. As a 19 year old with junior eligibility left, Myers is not able to be assigned to the team’s AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates.
When Myers suits up to play in his 10th NHL game this Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, his three-year entry level contract that he signed last May will begin.
The result, as Regier explained Thursday afternoon, is that Myers will become a restricted free agent one year earlier. If he remains on the roster for 40 games, he becomes an unrestricted free agent a year earlier, at the age of 26 years old rather than 27 years old.
“It’s a pretty big decision,” Regier said. “If we had returned him to junior, that three-year entry level contract would slide and it would begin next year. But that’s the decision we ended up making.”