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Sabres Grades: Eric Robinson

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Mid-season acquisition Eric Robinson is number 21 in the Sabres Grades countdown. Known as a defensive-minded, grinding forward, he added size and speed to the fourth line. In his 40 games since being traded to Buffalo in December, Robinson’s effectiveness in each contest was all over the board.

The Grading System

If you missed the introduction to the grading system, I’ve assigned letter grades to each Buffalo player based on game performance. The letter grades are assigned based on statistical computation, taking into account the following factors:

  • Production
  • Quality of offense
  • Quality of defense
  • Volume of offense
  • Volume of defense
  • Powerplay performance
  • Penalty kill performance
  • Penalties drawn and taken
  • Role
  • Minutes played

It’s important to understand that these player performance grades are solely based on the algorithm created, with the one exception being a game shortened by injury. A player who missed significant ice time due to injury was not docked for fewer minutes played. This eliminates the confusion of how well a player performs when available.

I went back and graded all 82 games this season for every player. This way, we fully understand the progression of each player’s performance on a game-by-game basis.

Also, a big thanks to Evolving-Hockey for the individual game data. They’re among the best in the business.

Here’s the grading scale in table form, for reference:

GradeLower LimitUpper Limit
A+92%100%
A85%92%
A-77%85%
B+69%77%
B62%69%
B-54%62%
C+46%54%
C38%46%
C-31%38%
D+23%31%
D15%23%
D-8%15%
F0%8%

Previous Sabres Grades: Victor Olofsson

Eric Robinson

Season Grade: D+

Average: C-

Consistency: C+

Boom %: F [0%]

Bust %: D [20%]

The consistency wasn’t there for Robinson, who would show flashes of impressive defensive showings at even-strength. Since he succumbed to fourth-line duty, there wasn’t much opportunity to show he could handle a significant role.

Robinson was a key penalty killer in Columbus, averaging over 1.8 minutes of shorthanded ice time per game over the past three seasons. According to Evolving-Hockey, he prevented an impressive 3.2 goals above replacement in the role. This placed him tied for 16th among all forwards in penalty kill success.

With Buffalo, he was under 12 minutes total down a man. Since the Sabres coaching staff didn’t use him to his full capabilities, Robinson was caught in no man’s land with little to contribute.

Eric Robinson Buffalo Sabres season grades 2023-2024

Robinson ranks ahead of common linemates Victor Olofsson and Tyson Jost because of the peak games. The downward trend of the individual game grades is due to a poor finish. The last 14 games were among his worst, leaving his future contract status in question.

Grade Distribution

Eric Robinson Buffalo Sabres grade distribution

While the amount of game grades below average is alarming, Robinson posted the second-highest quantity of scores in the “B-” range. Flash games, especially from a strictly bottom-six player, can be the secondary support that springs a team to a win.

While you can’t expect above-average performances most nights, at least he provides a higher ceiling than some of his other counterparts.

Eric Robinson Buffalo Sabres grade distribution 1st halfEric Robinson Buffalo Sabres grade distribution 2nd half

Splitting the season in half shows that, when first acquired, Robinson churned out mostly “B-” performances. As the season wore on, the individual efforts were less impressive, and he found himself in and out of the lineup.

Player Comps

Eric Robinson player comps

Robinson’s play style matches are about what you’d expect as a fourth-line mainstay. Besides volume shooting and penalty killing, he doesn’t quite do anything else as well as his comps.

Mason Shaw, Jimmy Vesey, and Brandon Duhaime fill similar roles. Sean Couturier is coming off a down season where he was relegated to the fourth line and even healthy scratched down the stretch in Philadelphia.

Andrew Mangiapane is an interesting comparison, as he’s not much of a physical or defensive player. His ability to drive play up the ice separates him from Robinson and is why he’s a much more useful player at even strength.

Based on his attributes, it’s hard to argue that Robinson was misused in Buffalo other than not seeing much penalty kill time.

2024-2025 Early Outlook

Robinson joins Jost and Olofsson in the group of unrestricted free agents this summer. With several prospects almost NHL-ready and offseason additions to be made, it’s unlikely the Sabres bring him back.

Some analytics department somewhere will recognize his shorthanded value and sign him to a short-term, organizational-depth deal. The Sabres seem set with penalty-kill forwards with Jordan Greenway, Dylan Cozens, Alex Tuch, Tage Thompson, Zach Benson, and Jack Quinn all getting run.

There still might be an NHL player in Robinson, but the ceiling is too low for Buffalo to continue exploring.

 

Previous Sabres Season Grades

Prospects and Depth

Casey Mittelstadt, Kyle Okposo, and Erik Johnson

24. Jacob Bryson

23. Tyson Jost

22. Victor Olofsson

21. Eric Robinson

20. Ryan Johnson

19. Lukas Rousek

18. Connor Clifton

17. Zemgus Girgensons

16. Bowen Byram

15. Peyton Krebs

14. TBD

13. TBD

12. TBD

11. TBD

10. TBD

9. TBD

8. TBD

7. TBD

6. TBD

5. TBD

4. TBD

3. TBD

2. TBD

1. TBD