It’s going to take some time to put this all together, so lets at least start at the beginning. Its a very good place to start, right?
When I used to play the NHL series of games from EA Sports, there were people I immediately attempted to trade for – Chris Drury and Robyn Regehr. Almost ten years later my adolescent plan is finally coming to fruition.
Well, maybe not quite, but Regehr is something the Sabres have been lacking for a long time. He’s the replacement for Jay McKee in the rough and tumble department. At least that’s what I’m expecting from him, and honestly that’s what his reputation implies. Sandpaper, reliability, and some leadership on the back end. Frankly it’s been needed for a while.
Lets think about this from the taking heat off of Ryan Miller perspective. I no longer expect Miller to have to punch anyone in the head to defend himself.
We’ve always expected Mike Weber to be the kind of guy who would step in for Miller and defend him, and he is starting to grow into that role. He’s also still young, and might be traded to the New York Jets for some all beef dogs by the time this summer is out. He’s a ProtoRegehrMcKee. Also, let’s not forget Tyler Myers decided to explore the nasty space during the first round loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Add to this Regehr and you have potentially three dudes who could stone cold knock a sucker flat.
Butler goes in the deal for Regehr. Maybe some day he will be a good NHL defenseman. He isn’t that right now. Regehr is, and the Sabres are all about Right now. We get Kotalik? I can’t stand him, but his most productive years were here in Buffalo, and he isn’t guaranteed a spot to play even though I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the blue and gold.
The mentality shift is pretty dramatic from the talent acquisition view point, but we can leave this discussion for further dissection later. We have all summer, after all. What interests me with this is that the Sabres are beginning to practice what they preach. Lindy Ruff will mention that goals are hard to come by in the NHL. That implies defense makes life tough for skilled players – denying shot lanes, taking the body when possible, and being a general pain in the ass. The Sabres had drafted heavily anticipating league where skill would be key to victory, especially on the defensive end (Sekera/Butler/Persson/Brennan.) When the league corrected back to a tighter game a few years after the lockout, the Sabres had to adjust again (Kassian/McNabb) to get big and tough. Now though with money becoming a valid tool instead of a liability for the team, they can get their needs now rather than waiting to groom specific players.
The Sabres had to be good at drafting and growing talent because they had no other practical options. They couldn’t start in free agency to fix gaps in their lineup or correct in free agency if they made a mistake after the fact. With the faucet open now from Pegula McMoneybags, the Sabres can use those groomed players as assets to trade for better players now and recover in free agency if they need to. They have multiple outs. They went from being the Royals to the Red Sox overnight.
Are we cool with this? Like, are we prepared to completely deconstructed the image we have made of ourselves – small market, tenacious underdogs. Underdogs we are not, and never will be again.
Its a whole new game out there now. We might as well burn it all down with a flamethrower and take what we can get.