[caption id="attachment_21" align="alignleft" width="300"] Darcy Regier has some big decisions the next few years if he wants to turn the talented Sabres into Cup contenders.
By: Todd Clark
Since Terry Pegula took over the Buffalo Sabres, Darcy Regier has drastically changed his approach to being the General Manger of the team. Having been in the position for 14 years, it is amazing to see just how different he has been the past two seasons. Gone are the days of signing second tier free agent to play major roles (Scott Neidermeyer, Steve Montador, Shaone Morrison) and in are the days of being in on major acquisitions (Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr, Ville Leino). Gone are the days of losing key players/fan favorites (Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Brian Campbell) and in are the days of locking up our top talent (Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis). He is finally building on his assets and creating a team that will be a force in the league for years to come. However, there are very important decisions looming over Mr. Regier in the near future.
Before getting to these difficult decisions, lets take a look at how drastic Darcy has changed his approach to business since Pegula took over as owner. We as fans were told to be patient, to wait for our young talent to develop in the minors as they grow into their own. The team put their faith in Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, Tim Connolly, Paul Gaustad and Jochen Hecht to lead them to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Now, in just two seasons, the only core players left are Miller, Vanek and Pominville. Connolly and Hecht left via free agency while Gaustad became a 1st
round pick (Zemgus Girgensons) and Derek Roy became Steve Ott and Adam Pardy. While all these additions are important to the competitiveness of the team, the window is closing for this group of players to win the Stanley Cup with the Buffalo Sabres.
Darcy Regier’s important decisions lies in which veterans deserve to stay to contribute and mold the young talent that is stockpiled in the organization. Below are the Sabres Unrestricted and Restricted Free Agents categorized by year:
[caption id="attachment_23" align="alignright" width="150"] In order to maintain success, the Sabres will have to blend their young talent with strong veteran leadership.
- UFA – Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold, Adam Pardy, Alexander Sulzer, John Scott, Matt Ellis
- RFA – Cody Hodgson, Corey Tropp, Mike Weber, Jhonas Enroth, Luke Adam, T.J. Brennan, Brian Flynn, Nick Crawford, Jacob Lagace
- UFA – Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Steve Ott, Cody McCormick, Joe Finley
-RFA – Nathan Gerbe, Marcus Foligno, Brayden McNabb, Mark Pysyck, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc
Young talent in the likes of Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Drew Stafford, Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Joel Armia, Luke Adam, Tyler Myers, Andrej Sekera, Brayden McNabb, Mark Pysyk and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc are the future stars of this team. While their potential for stardom is exciting, Terry Pegula wants to build a championship team for years to come. These youngsters will not be able to get there unless they are surrounded by players who will lead by example and contribute to the overall success of the team. One of the main reasons the old core failed was because all the workload fell on them before they were ready to handle it. They had all grown into solid NHL players but they were unable to win without the veterans that lead them to the Eastern Conference finals two years in a row.
Darcy Regier needs to continue making good decisions in building a winner. The old core players in Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville and Ryan Miller each become UFA’s after the 2013-2014 season. It will be important over the next two seasons to sign these players to extensions or make sure the team gets significant talent back for them prior to losing them on July 1st
, 2014. The franchise cannot afford to lose these players for nothing, like in the past, with all the young talent they have in the organization right now.
The future of the Buffalo Sabres is extremely bright if all the prospects continue to progress as expected but it is important to keep top tier veterans around them. Darcy Regier has been the General Manager of the Buffalo Sabres for a very long time. It will be interesting to see how he deals with these important player decisions, if he wants to continue being the GM ...