Darcy Regier wouldn’t say it outright in his press conference, but he maneuvered the trade deadline like a general manager leading a rebuild.
Regier’s moves netted the Sabres eleven total picks over the first two rounds of the next three drafts. Eleven picks. That includes two first round and two second round picks this year, a first and three seconds next year and a first and two seconds in 2015. In addition, Regier acquired a pair of prospects in his haul from the Jason Pominville trade.
Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr probably weren’t going to be part of the team’s plans for 2013-14 as the season began to spiral out of control. Regier got the maximum return that he could for each player and pulled the trigger. Given that second round picks are valuable commodities, he did a good job in netting a trio of the picks for his two pending free agents.
While the Pominville trade was somewhat expected, the magnitude of the deal may not have been. Two picks (first in 2013, second in 2014) and two NHL-ready prospects for the former captain is a solid haul and specifically the type of trade that is relatively foreign when you look at the moves typically made by Regier.
While the Sabres haven’t been in full sell mode for some time, Regier has also never had to deal with shipping out such a valuable commodity. The closest you could come would be getting Steve Bernier and a first for Brian Campbell, but even that pales in comparison.
Regier had to go into sell mode, there is no denying the position that he was in. There is a good chance that a majority of Sabres fans want Regier gone and they aren’t off base in that desire. He probably isn’t the man to complete the process of the rebuild but that doesn’t mean he didn’t take the right step forward with the moves he made. Of course, there is no guarantee that he will survive long enough to take the next step in this process.
The Pominville trade works well with the moves made to unload Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold as Regier brought in a bushel basket of picks in the trades for the three players. Now what needs to be determined is how Regier will choose to use the picks – if he is even the guy making those decisions.
Since there is no axe waiting to fall on Regier just yet, assume he will indeed be the person entering the offseason as Buffalo’s general manager. I very much doubt that he is interested in a full three or five-year rebuilding process and would prefer to leverage a potential lottery pick along with the other picks he accumulated into tangible assets that will help the team next season. That is truly how this deadline will be evaluated, not by the moves made before 3:00, but how the return of each trade plays out.
Based on their record and the potential for a continued slide down the standings, the Sabres could very well be looking at one of the top three selections in the draft. Adding that pick with Mikhail Grigorenko will provide a core of two phenoms that can be built around. It will be the first round pick from Minnesota and the collection of second round picks that may or may not shape next year’s roster.
Regier maneuvered himself to have at least four picks to play with between the 2013 and 2014 draft (at least one first and three seconds). It seems safe to assume that he will also have the ability to actively shop Drew Stafford and perhaps even Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek. Combining those three players with his collection of picks would put Regier (or any GM) in a position of strength in terms of acquiring new talent.
Exactly what trades would be executed leading up to the draft and over the summer are anyone’s guess and there are certainly no guarantees. What the key is that Regier has given himself the ammunition to package any number of draft picks together along with roster players to continue the face lift that he began today. Add in any potential free agent additions that may be signed and the writing will be on the wall.
Unfortunately these aren’t trades that can be judged at the moment they were made. However, if the picks made this past week turn into roster players by next season, fans will have a better grasp on exactly what Regier was able to do today.