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01 March 2007

Regier Goes All In.

Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier is a cautious man.
For his supporters this penchant for caution is his greatest asset. His detractors cite it as his greatest weakness. Whatever your view may be on Darcy Regier he is a man unafraid to go against the conventional wisdom, a dangerous proposition in professional sports management in the days of ESPN and the Internet. As you may recall Regier decided to hold on to Goaltender Martin Biron last year at the deadline only to see Biron be unnecessary for the playoff run and the Sabres victimized by an astonishing rash of defenseman injuries that may have cost them the Stanley Cup.

Taking the expected criticism in stride, Regier cautiously moved about his business in the off season and allowed veteran team leaders like Mike Grier, J.P. Dumont and Jay Mckee to leave and again deciding against trading Biron, instead electing to keep his young core together. It appears to have paid off as at the time of this writing the Sabres have the second best record in the league and have the highest scoring team.

One would think that a General Manager in that position could rest comfortably approaching the trade deadline. Not Darcy Regier. Another incredible spate of injuries has put eight regular players in the press box including team co-captain Chris Drury. Though youngsters from the Rochester Americans like Drew Stafford, Clarke Macarthur and Patrick Kaleta have filled the void admirably it appears that Regier realized that caution was the risky move this year and he decided to play some big cards in order to make the run. In fact the Sabres, due to injury call ups, found themselves actually over the cap on deadline day morning.

On deadline day morning Regier gained some much needed cap room by dealing perennial fan favorite Biron to the hated rival Philadelphia Flyers for what appears to be the first pick in the second round of the draft. He followed this move up by acquiring fallen Goaltender prospect Ty Conklin from Columbus Blue Jackets and defenseman Mikko Lehtonen from Nashville for 5th and 4th round picks respectively. The cleared cap room set the table for Regier's biggest move. He packaged Buffalo's #1 pick in the 2007 Entry Draft and young centerman Jiri Novotny to the Washington Capitals for gifted, yet sometimes enigmatic, forward Danius Zubrus and minor league defenseman Timmo Helbling.

To say such a deadline move is out of character for Regier wouldn't be totally true, he did get Joe Juneau and Donald Audette for the cup run in 1999, rare would probably be the correct term. It is just very unusual to see Regier-led Buffalo team not have a back up plan if Miller goes down with an injury. For Regier working without that safety net must be disconcerting, almost akin to trying to not breathe, but it seems a testament to his belief in this team. He will have all of the front line players back for the cup run and has supplemented them with another very good offensive weapon. He has also given the team some defensive depth for the cup run. One can argue he has built the best team in hockey. But.... one freak bounce, one collision, one Ryan Miller injury could shatter it all. He threw out a Jack in Martin Biron. Darcy Regier has laid it all on the table. He is banking it all on the fact that in Danius Zubrus he drew an Ace.

3 fanatics have replied:

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

You got a good pick for Biron, but I don't think Ty Conklin is up to and frankly, if Miller goes down, the Sabres'Cup run is over.

Tom L said...

Ghost of DH,

Very nice job. They will try to rehab Conklin to regain at least most of the form he had a couple of years ago in EDM.

Dunno if they can, but they have 6 weeks to do so.


Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

Conklin really stumbled after shining in the pre-lockout era, I don't think he'll ever get back to teh form he had.

He goes from top-notch US goalie, like Ryan Miller but back then, Rick Dipietre.

Now, he ain't any better than Mika Noronen, and he's better.

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