Darcy Regier has become known as a very patient General Manager that is not influenced by the fans or media. We should all hope that trend continues or he could make a very a big mistake.
The fans and media have been clamoring for a big shakeup since the Sabres season ended prematurely with a first round playoff loss to the Boston Bruins. Most of the criticism has been directed at the Sabres top two centers, Derek Roy and especially Tim Connolly. Many believe these players represent everything that is wrong with the Buffalo Sabres and that getting rid of one or both of them would be addition by subtraction.
I say...be careful what you wish for because it might come true. Who would the Sabres find to replace their top two centers? There are not too many players that could fill the shoes offensively for either player.
Darcy Regier made a comment this week "The Sabres have two of the top 20 centers in the entire league". This comment has been criticized harshly by many. Some called it arrogant and patently absurd, while others thought it to be the most insanely idiotic statement Darcy Regier has ever made.
Mr. Regier is a smart man and he would not make a statement like that without having facts to back it up. It might surprise many of you but Derek Roy (69 points) and Tim Connolly (65 points) finished in the top 22 for points by a center this season. Only the Vancouver Canucks (Henrik Sedin 112 and Ryan Kesler 75), Pittsburgh Penguins (Sidney Crosby 109 and Evgeni Malkin 77) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (Steven Stamkos 95 and Vinny Lecavalier 70) had two players in the top 22.
If this doesn't convince you, we can take the experiment a step further and look at points per game, both Roy (.86 ppg) and Connolly (.89 ppg) finish in the top 20. Only the Canucks and Penguins have two players that finished in the top 20 with points per game.
Neither Roy or Connolly is untouchable on the Sabres roster, it would be great to get a superstar type center, but those type players are usually not available. The Sabres can trade away Roy or Connolly, or both if they wish, but they need to be replaced by somebody that can come in and be an improvement. The addition by subtraction theory is not a good one and will see this team regress from their division title last season.
Are there players available that could make the Sabres better?
They could try to lure Marc Savard away from the Bruins and try to convince him that Buffalo is a good place to play hockey. Would Savard be the upgrade the Sabres are looking for? Not Quite. Savard will be in the first year of a seven year contract that will pay him $7 million the next two seasons and he is coming off of an injury-filled season that seen him score only 33 points in 41 games. Savard is also 32 years-old while Connolly is 29 and Roy is only 27.
The names in free agency aren't overly impressive either. Matthew Lombardi is probably the best of the available centers. He is a great skater and has some offensive upside but would not be an upgrade over Roy or Connolly. After Lombardi the list becomes less than desirable with names like Matt Cullen (could be a third line center option), Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay leading the way.
Darcy Regier has been a patient General Manager throughout the years and the Sabres would be well served if he was patient again this season. If he succumbs to the pressure of the fans and media, the Sabres could feel the effects for a long time. The pressure is on Darcy Regier to make this team a winning team, but change for the sake of change is a bad thing.
Flame away Sabres fans!