Are Regier’s moves being mismanaged?

Part one of this post ran yesterday, I hope you read it. Also, be sure to participate in the poll below.

When analyzing the most recent moves by Darcy Regier, I see decisions that were motivated by adding toughness (Ott, Regehr) and talent down the middle (Leino, Hodgson). While the success of those deals is obviously up for judgment, the one thing that is clear is that Regier is not only capable of identifying his club’s shortcomings but is capable of addressing them.

What is sometimes lost in translation is that the direction Regier has attempted to point the team in has been widely greeted with praise recently. The execution with those acquisitions has been what has been questioned. Ultimately, those fans who are quick to judge see these moves as terrible decisions and trace the timeline back to Regier and ultimately place the blame on him.

Again, remember how you felt about the Regehr trade when it happened and as he settled into the roster. You would have been hard pressed to find a fan who didn’t think much of what the Sabres gave up and the type of player they got in return.

The issue lately has been how these players are being implemented. Should the blame be placed on the coach? Are some of these players just not fitting in? Are some of the players busts? All valid questions and each is probably part of the equation at some point.

For example, it is looking like Ville Leino just isn’t the player they expected to sign. His contract is now cumbersome and he hasn’t offered anything to the Sabres in terms of production. He obviously falls into the “miss” category. However, for players like Regehr and Hodgson, they’ve brought a wrinkle to the roster that was missing and have undoubtedly filled a need.

That brings us to coaching. Plenty have clamored for Lindy Ruff to be fire. Hell, Jerry Sullivan had a nice pre-written column that just needed to be slightly tweaked after Thursday’s win. I can’t say I disagree anymore. Continue reading

Can scoring depth be found on UFA market?

With free agency nearly a week old, the Sabres are still in a position of need when it comes to filling holes left after last season.

Darcy Regier has been quiet in the early going of the free agency period, acquiring more grit and toughness for the Sabres’ bottom six. His only NHL signing has been one for the fringe ($600K for John Scott) and he did make a fairly significant trade when he sent Derek Roy to Dallas in exchange for Steve Ott and Adam Pardy.

Peter Mueller is one of the few right wingers on the open market that could help the Sabres.

Since the Sabres have nine defensemen under contract – ten if you’re counting T.J. Brennan and Brayden McNabb – and a glaring need for additional offensive depth, preferably at center.  The trade market is where Regier is hoping to patch the rest of the holes in his ship, but it seems as if a stagnant free agent market is now slowing the trade market.

Buffalo has been tied to just about any player rumored to be on the block since the Stanley Cup Final. Whether it be Bobby Ryan or Jordan Staal, people have easily drawn conclusions between the Sabres, their need for talent up front and the current trade market. However, the only trade that has been made so far was a balanced hockey trade that brought the Sabres more pugnacity. Yet, they remain very much in the market for help in the goal scoring department and at center. The two needs may or may not be mutually exclusive.

The Sabres are currently in a situation where they may have an 18-year old rookie (Mikhail Grigorenko) and two 22-year olds (Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson) on their opening night roster. Grigorenko’s status is still up in the air, but the other two are sure locks. Behind them lies a pair of empty spots on the depth chart. Filling those spots is becoming increasingly difficult. However, there are a few names on the open market who could potentially end up with a contract in Buffalo for next season.

As for finding scoring depth, the free agent market for centers is rather devoid of that trait. However, there are plenty of wingers available who can give the Sabres some additional scoring depth on wing.

If my previous idea of flipping Thomas Vanek to right wing doesn’t fly, which is more than likely, the Sabres will probably want to snag a right winger to settle in behind Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford on the depth chart. Continue reading

Vanek at right wing could provide balance

With development camp set to open next week and training camp around the corner, the Buffalo Sabres roster still remains in a state of flux.

The acquisition of Steve Ott and Adam Pardy stripped another center off a roster that was already in need of an upgrade at the position. Although the trade further depleted the Sabres down the middle, it wasn’t as if Darcy Regier was treating getting a number one center with low priority.

In all fairness, acquiring Ott was a great hockey trade. Despite having a need for center depth, Roy was an expendable piece for an organization with an abundance of undersized forwards. With Nathan Gerbe, Tyler Ennis and even Dan Catenacci under contract, the Sabre won’t miss another small forward. While Roy’s departure does create a vacancy, it provides the infusion of size and grit the Sabres had been searching for.

The Sabres could be served well to try Thomas Vanek at right wing.

Losing out on an offensive center is not a good situation for a team that struggled to score in 2011-12, Ott does provide the Sabres with a flexible option. While the goal to acquire a true center is still the ultimate goal for the Sabres, it won’t be the easiest feat to accomplish. In addition to their deep defensive corps, the Sabres are overloaded on the left side at forward.

Ott is one of those left wingers, but he is capable of winning faceoffs and I fully expect to see him on the ice for defensive zone draws on penalty kills and at even strength. If absolutely necessary, Ott could fill a role as Buffalo’s third line center; unlike Ville Leino, he is capable of playing the position.

The true solution, in my opinion, is to keep Ott on the wing to take advantage of his offensive skillset. Yes, he is capable of producing points. The key lies with Thomas Vanek. Continue reading