33-Year-Old Defenseman – Buffalo Sabres
Josh Gorges Contract Information:
Signed a six-year, $23.4 million extension with Montreal in January of 2012.
Gorges skated as the seventh defenseman Thursday.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
A minutes eater for a Buffalo blue line short on experience, Gorges took a minus-28 rating last season to go along with just six assists in 46 games played. His season was cut short after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee, but he's expected to be ready to go by training camp. The stay-at-home defenseman doesn't provide a lot offense, but he is certainly the team's best shot blocker. Gorges willl continue to play big minutes until the team's young defensemen are ready to take over.
A surprise exit from Montreal saw the reliable veteran land in Buffalo where the team’s young defensemen will need a strong voice and mentor to guide them in the right path. Gorges is an excellent positional player and will be counted on heavily to block shots and leave the offensive side of the game to his defensive partner, which will likely be one of Buffalo’s young puck-moving defenseman. Gorges’ 177 blocked shots ranked seventh in the league in 2013-14. In seven years with the Habs, Gorges has only finished the season with a minus rating once, but on a weaker Sabres team that performance may be hard to replicate.
Gorges had nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) in 48 games for the Canadiens in 2012-13, but we know by now, scoring isn't what makes him valuable. It's his leadership and penchant for blocking shots. He led Montreal with 116 blocked shots (seventh in NHL). He'll occupy a spot in one of the top two defensive pairings.
Gorges, who entered the 2011-12 season rehabbing offseason knee surgery, proved to the Canadiens the knee was sound, so they wasted little time inking the pending unrestricted free agent to a six-year deal in January 2012. That should tell you all you need to know about how much the team values him. Playing in all 82 games in two of the last three seasons, Gorges is a stay-at-home type that is a constant on the penalty kill and blocks a ton of shots. While recording 16 points, he led the team with a plus-14 and will play major minutes on the first defensive pairing.
Gorges suffered a right knee injury that required reconstructive surgery and limited him to 36 games in 2010-11. Despite the serious injury, the Canadiens re-signed him in the offseason to a one-year deal. He’s not afraid to get in front of pucks, having averaged two blocked shots per game in his three seasons in Montreal. He’ll skate on one of the top two pairings in what will be a contract year before becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Gorges is currently battling with P.K. Subban for the first line right blue liner slot next to Andrei Markov. Gorges has shown great durability the past two seasons playing in 82 games last year and 81 the season prior. It is going to be very hard to keep Subban off the front line but Gorges should be no worse the second on the depth chart and will provide good puck handling and stellar defensive play.
Gorges may have been the steadiest player on the Canadiens’ roster in 2008-09. The defenseman, playing with top blue-liner Andrei Markov much of the season, posted career-highs in games played (81), goals (4), assists (19), points (23), plus-minus (plus-12), and penalty minutes (37) in his fourth season, and second full season in Montreal, last year. His plus-minus and blocked shot tallies led the team in ’08-’09, while his goal, assist, and point totals more than doubled his previous career-highs. Barring injury, Gorges should get as much playing time as last year, and should be able to at least match his numbers from last season.
Gorges came virtually out of nowhere to become a key member to the Canadiens defensive corps last season. However, with just nine assists, Gorges has yet to establish any roto credence in the Bigs. Gorges will play with Francis Bouillon on the Canadiens' third defensive pairing this season and may see limited minutes on the second power play unit. Still, we'd stay away from drafting him unles you're in a 40-team league.
Gorges is a fringe NHL defenseman and strictly a depth player with little skill offensively.
He's not guaranteed a spot in the final rotation, and even if Gorges gets on the ice, he's a defense-first type all the way. The Sharks have guys who can move the puck, so Gorges probably won't see time on the power play.