Darcy Regier may not do well constructing teams or awarding contracts, but he’s often proven to be adept on the trade market. He did well in selling off a major piece yesterday when he sent Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders.
Getting a first and a second round pick along with Matt Moulson is a damn fine return of a single player whose been widely rumored to be heading to Minnesota once free agency opens this summer. In fact, I’d say that the return for Vanek surpasses that of what Regier got for Pominville at last year’s trade deadline.
Regier also likely extended his lease on the General Manager position for at least a few more months. There’s a good chance that the fan discontent and media chatter has helped to turn up the heat on Regier’s tenure. Pulling an impressive trade for his team’s best player – particularly for a pair of impressive draft picks – will most certainly give him a stay of execution.
Trading Vanek was beyond inevitable as the Sabres’ dreadful start likely sealed his decision to depart Buffalo. He said as much in his first session with the New York media indicating that the type of rebuild the Sabres have embarked upon is far from an ideal situation for the pending free agent.
Hopefully there aren’t many Sabres fans who read too far into Vanek’s comments from earlier today as disdain for the team or area but simply as the desire to get out of a bad situation professionally.
It’s a shame to see Vanek go as he was a big piece of the organization beginning with his selection in the 2003 lottery and really kicking off during the run that began in 2005-06. He’s likely to be a Sabres Hall of Fame addition down the line as he was a major contributor throughout the mid-2000s, topping 40 goals twice and eclipsing 30 goals twice more.
At some point Vanek was going to need to be traded and I’m confident in saying that the Sabres couldn’t have done much better than the package they received even if they had waited until the deadline. Obviously gaining a fifth pick in the top-60 this year is a huge coup, particularly with the opportunity to add a few more depending on who else is moved by the end of the year. That includes Matt Moulson, I might add.
Moulson’s addition to the deal really tips the scales in Buffalo’s favor to begin with and should he not come to an agreement on a new deal by the deadline I’d expect to see him sold as a rental. Surely the plan is to try and lock him up to a new deal before then, but should the proper deal come up, I won’t be surprised to see him on his third team come spring time.
There’s nothing wrong with that practice, either. At this point it’s all about maximizing value and stocking the cupboards moving forward. At some point the Sabres will reach a saturation point with picks, particularly of the second round variety, but I don’t think they’ve gotten there just yet.
So long as the progression plan is more than simply waiting for these second rounders to develop, there’s no issue in the stockpiling mission that Regier has embarked upon. Whether or not Regier should be the one making said picks is en entirely different question.
The direction taken with this decision is certainly the correct one as there should be no more questions as to if this is a team working towards a rebuild or one trying to toe the competitive line along the way.