The quick answer is yes.
Before I get started let me clarify why I used the words "Most Positive" instead of "Best". I believe trades can only be evaluated for the impact on the Sabres. For example, Chris Butler may become and all-star in Calgary, but that is no guarantee that he would have become all-star if he stayed in Buffalo. Also, the impact of a trade is not strictly about what happens on the ice. Team chemistry and organizational chemistry are real and do matter. Finally, I prefer the term to "Positive Impact" to "Best". It's my post, feel free to complain.
Anyway, after the jump I list five trades Darcy Rieger has made that have had most positive impact on the Sabres. Afterward I will discuss where the Regher trade fits in this list.5. Stu Barnes for Matthew Barnaby (1999): Stu Barnes was the veteran "leader" free-agent the Sabre are currently searching for to replace Mike Grier and Rob Niedermeyer. He was named Captain after the Peca trade, scored some key playoff goals, and was an all-around solid player.
4. Doug Gilmore and JP Dumont for Michael Grosek (2000): The impact of this trade is simple: No Gilmore - no playoffs in 2000. He showed Hall-of-Fame credentials by almost single-handedly pushing the Sabres into the playoffs. Also, JP Dumont matured into solid player during his time as a Sabre. Finally, making the playoffs brought a few million dollars to a team in dire financial straits. Making the playoffs, probably delayed the Sabre's journey into bankruptcy, which in retrospect may not have been a good thing, but I digress.
3. Chris Drury and Steve Begin for Rhett Warrener and Kieth Ballard (Net of two trades; 2003): Not much to say here about Drury other than being a Co-Captain of Eastern Conference finalist, scoring clutch goals, and bringing outstanding chemistry to the team.
2. Danny Briere and a 3rd round pick for Chris Gratton and a 4th round pick (2003): It is hard to separate the impact of Danny Briere from Chris Drury as they came to Sabres within months of each other, then left on the same day. That said, the reason I ranked the Briere trade ahead of Drury is because of what the Sabres "gave up" for Briere. When executed, the trade was widely viewed by Sabres fans, among others, as dumping a team cancer (Mr. Chemistry himself - Chris Gratton). The bonus was that Sabres received an relatively unknown young, fiery, center with scoring potential. In Gratton's case, this was a classic example of "addition by subtraction". Years later this trade is viewed quite differently, but it helps to keep in mind the circumstances at the time.
1. Rhett Warrener and a 5th round pick for Mike Wilson (1999): Even if the Sabres had not picked Ryan Miller with the 5th round pick, this trade would have made my top five trades. Rhett Warrener proved to be a younger version of Robin Regher, a tough stay at home defenseman top-four defenseman that made the goalies job (Dominik Hasek) much easier. As a bonus, he was part of the trade that brought Chris Drury to Buffalo. That draft pick is the main reason I gave this trade top ranking. Opinions very as to how good Ryan Miller really is, but at a minimum he is an above average goalie, that would start on most NHL teams. I believe he is a franchise goalie who, last year, suffered from a combination Olympic-hangover, poor back-up, and a defensively weak set of blueliners. With the addition of Robyn Regher, Christian Erhoff, and Jonas Enroth, I expect better performances from him for years to come. Like it or not, Ryan Miller is the face of the Buffalo Sabres and has had greatest impact on this team of any single player since Dominik Hasek.
Where does the Robyn Regher trade fit in?
At best, I would rank this trade first. The greatest impact is on how the rest of the league (teams, players, and agents) view the Sabres. I do not think Christian Erhoff signs with Sabres before free agency opens without this trade. Also, without this trade I do not think the media pundits would consider Buffalo a serious contender to land Brad Richards, which some do. Regardless of how Robyn Regher performs (despite Darcy Regier comments, I do not believe Ales Kotalik will ever play for the Sabres again), this trade's impact will be greatest off the ice. It may save Darcy Regier's job.
At worst, I would rank this trade fourth because this trade greased the wheels for the Erhoff trade/signing. The combination of Erhoff and Regehr should significantly upgrade the Sabres defense, but that remains to be seen.
So, there you have it. What do you think?