Darcy Regier has been a point of contention for Buffalo Sabres fans for what seems like forever, and never has he been more under the microscope than he is now, having to deal with two highly talented, high priced players entering the final year of their contracts, neither of which is expected to re-sign with the team.
The fact that Sabres fans have been waiting, hoping, and arguing about the fate of these two men since before the season ended has escalated the expectation that these men need to be traded, and with each passing milestone that sees them still on the roster - the draft, buyout time, free agency - it can leave fans disappointed, worried, or angry that the team might suffer a repeat of July 1, 2007 come next offseason.
However, there are some factors that are making the trade market a bit more difficult to navigate than usual - none of which is a bigger impediment than the lowering salary cap.
He’s a superior offensive talent – it’s not a stretch to see him replacing Ilya Kovalchuk on the Devils, if a player like that is every replaceable. He can carry a team for several games on his own. There are few players in the NHL that can claim that.
Again, though: At what cost? His contract is inflated and elephantine; if the Sabres aren’t willing to absorb some of it this season, it’s nearly toxic.
It’s also a contract that runs out next summer, which begs the next question: What is Thomas Vanek worth as a pending UFA with a huge cap hit?
Would you give up a top six forward, a prospect and a pick for one year of Vanek? One assumes a Vanek trade would resemble the Bobby Ryan trade to Ottawa, and that cost the Senators a bright young NHL player, a prospect and a pick.
But they get at least two years of Bobby Ryan. Vanek’s only there for one year if he’s acquired by a team with whom he doesn’t want to re-sign.
Vanek's "elephantine" contract (and Miller's, to a slightly lesser extent) will be a serious challenge to work around in a league where the amount of available money is actually decreasing next season. Now that we're entering the summer months, Regier indicated on Friday that the trade market would likely slow down considerably in the coming weeks, as front offices take some time off to relax and re-evaluate their rosters in the summer months.
Unfortunately, for us as fans that means more weeks and months of speculation, waiting, and wondering what the fate of these two players, and the future of the franchise, will ultimately be. There will likely be many differing opinions on this forum, and many others, about what should be done, and about Regier's efforts in doing so
It's in that light that I want to bring your attention to two excellent comments that capture the spirit of what the debate on this topic should be about. The first from user AmeriCanada10:
I get you don’t like Regier, but I believe FloridaBuffalo is less ripping on "anyone who questions ‘Darcy the great’" and it’s more of ripping on people who think Darcy is an ignorant buffoon that is completely unaware of his job requirements and the free agents on his team (especially the marquee RFA).
And a follow up, from Frank Reich Revolution:
If it seems like Darcy has lots of defenders around here, it’s because his attackers often use irrational or factually incorrect reasoning. If you want to debate him on the merits, go right ahead.
If you've been reading DBTB for a while now, you probably know that I'm a sports optimist, and I don't shy away from letting that come out in my writing. I think it's more fun to imagine and hope that things will change or improve rather than assuming that they won't, and I'd rather enjoy the roller coaster ride that goes along with it than be the guy saying "I told you so" at the end.
However, this blog isn't for me, it's for all of you guys. There's already been plenty of healthy debate on Regier, Miller, and Vanek since the end of the season, and I'm sure there will be a lot more in the coming months. If you don't agree with something I wrote, or with another users thoughts, you're welcome to challenge that person's opinion, as long as you don't challenge the person behind it. It's right there in our Community Guidelines, along with a plea that your argue your point with respect and intelligence, especially when it come to a lightning rod topic like Regier. It will make all our lives more enjoyable this summer, and will help continue to make DBTB a great place to talk about the team we all love.
A slow summer (and in Buffalo at least, a really hot one) will likely lead to frustration for Sabres fans wondering when the fate of their team will be decided. Just keep your head cool, Buffalo, and we'll all make it through this together.