Born May 4, 1983 (age 28) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Center and alternate captain for the Buffalo Sabres
I think we need some Buffalove in here. Derek played for the Kitchener Rangers for two years before being drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2001, and he even played with the team for the 2002 preseason before being sent back to the Rangers. That would be his last season in the OHL, and he went out with a bang by leading them to the 2003 OHL championship and the Memorial Cup and being named Memorial Cup MVP. His first pro season was started with the Rochester Americans, but after scoring a point a game in 26 games the Sabres called him up for the rest of their season.
The next season was the lockout, so Derek spent the season with the Amerks, and he started out the 2005-06 season with them after failing to make the cut in Sabres training camp. But then he scored 20 points in 8 games, and the Sabres were like “Dang, we need this guy” and called him to the team. He was on fire that season, even scoring two hat tricks in six days’ time! He even got 15 points in the postseason when the Sabres went to the Eastern Conference Semifinals before being bounced by the Carolina Hurricanes. The next two seasons saw him improve his points totals, and helped the Sabres win the President’s Trophy in 2007. That was also the year he signed a 6-year contract with the team.
Last season would’ve been another hot one had he not torn a quad tendon and missed the rest of the regular season; he was only able to play for the seventh game of their series with the Flyers in the first round, which they lost. He’s having a low season this time, with only 41 points in 74 games, but I think he’ll finish strong.