Didn't think Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier was serious about committing to a full organizational rebuild? Think again.
The opening of free agency came and went on July 5, and the Sabres made nary a whimper. No new names were brought in to Buffalo, only two returning faces on the blue line in Henrik Tallinder and Alexander Sulzer, and a player for the Amerks to enjoy in defenseman Drew Bagnall.
Aside from Tallinder, the news that made the biggest waves was one that saw a player leave the team when the Sabres bought out Nathan Gerbe's contract. It wasn't exactly a wave of frenzied activity for a team with as many holes as the Sabres find on their roster.
In fact, the Amerks had a busier weekend than the Sabres did, seeing Matt Ellis re-signed, and watching forward Nick Tarnasky and goalie/Team MVP David Leggio sign with other AHL teams. The Sabres additions on the blue line should also excite Amerks fans, as it means that they'll see better players (Ristolainen, McNabb, maybe Pysyk) get bumped back to Rochester.
So what does the lack of activity mean? Well, it means that Darcy Regier's line about Sabres fans having to go through a period of suffering may be coming true. That's not to automatically say the team will be bad next year, but it's clear at this point that the Sabres are going to roll with their very young team and let the kids they have grow up and develop together, taking their lumps along the way.
How committed are they to rebuilding? In a move I'm still wrapping my head around, they brought in a guy whose only likely job this season will be to get another guy out of his own head and back on his game. If that's not using a roster spot in the weirdest, rebuild-iest way possible, I don't know what is.
The Sabres ended last season with the youngest roster (by average age) in the entire NHL. Their prospect system was rated third best in the NHL by the very smart people at Hockey Prospectus. There's plenty to look forward to in the coming years, but it seems that Regier is willing to stand pat for now and see how this new young roster grows and develops this year.
Of course, more changes could still come with the impeding possibility of a Ryan Miller or Thomas Vanek trade, but I think Dave Lozo of The Score summed up the Sabres moves best, calling them "Healthy Scratches" in the free agent market, and saying:
What Regier does with Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller will be the real offseason for the Sabres, but for now, this weekend was like lying on the couch and watching the Bourne trilogy; oddly satisfying in a lazy sort of way yet you feel like you could’ve done more.