UNIONDALE NY - JANUARY 15: Matt Martin #17 of the New York Islanders hits the net following a goal by teammate Michael Grabner #40 (not shown) against the Buffalo Sabres as Luke Adam #72 knocks over goaltender Ryan Miller #30 at the Nassau Coliseum on January 15 2011 in Uniondale New York. The Islanders defeated the Sabres 5-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
In leiu of a season-ending press conference, Sabres president Ted Black recently joined WGR 550's Howard Simon Show, and displayed his trademark honesty and openness over the course of an hour on the air. The interview is highly worth a listen in their audio vault (though the callers are not) or for you more visual types, you can read a recap of the interview here.
Among the many tidbits that Black dropped during the interview, one stood out to me in particular. From WGR:
It’s often talked about that the Sabres need a top six center, but Black said there is another need, "We need to be a tougher team to play against. I’m sure that’s one of Darcy’s action items in the off season." Black says Darcy is not given marching orders on what to do, "It’s more collaborative. We have these discussions and go through the roster and find out what’s out there and what the options are. You look at trades. There’s a lot of trade activity around the draft and I think it's getting more to be one of the more important times of the year to improve your team."
The big story of this Sabres season was Lucic-gate, and the team's lack of reaction on the ice to Lucic's dirty hit on Ryan Miller, so I think every Sabres fan will unanimously agree that Regier making the team tougher would be a good thing.
However, hidden within that quote about team toughness is an interesting hint at how Black and Regier might view their options at the draft:
There’s a lot of trade activity around the draft and I think it's getting more to be one of the more important times of the year to improve your team.
Is the idea that the Sabres might use their plethora of high draft picks and/or expiring contracts (cough*Roy*cough) to make a move at the draft now more likely than ever, or is that reading too far into Black's statement? Your guess is as good as mine, but it certainly gives us something to consider.
It will be exciting trying to figure out how the Sabres will use their two first round and two second round picks this summer, but in the meantime we'll see if Regier's offseason "action items" will include making the Sabres a bigger and tougher team. Ryan Miller and his flying mask certainly hope so.