Let me get this out of the way right from the start. More than any of the members on our illustrious crew, I’m not smart enough to assess what Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff mean to this team on the ice, but I certainly know what it means for this franchise. The change that Pegula spoke of is not an illusion. And maybe, just maybe, Darcy Regier really has been shackled for all these years.
Management made it no secret heading into this off season that defenders and centers were their primary focus. But talk has become cheaper than a taco truck for Buffalo recently. These two moves by the Sabres, trades that heaped a considerable yet logical amount of new debt onto the payroll, show that rather than addressing needs by picking up bargain journeyman or overspending irrationally, the Sabres are ready to take drastic but calculated measures in their quest for a Cup. Regehr & Ehrhoff alone won’t get us there, but it’s a great start. Fans were already excited for July 1st. Now they’re planning parties.
The happiest teammate in all this must be ‘Captain America’, Ryan Miller. I’m sure he of all people has been annoyed at how little has been done to ensure that he is properly protected. Drafting Myers and McNabb is great, but to truly assist Miller and the rest of the team’s run at glory, the Sabres’ front office needed to make moves like these.
I don’t mean to belittle Buffalo when I say that. But we all know that when headline free agents have hit the market the past few years, we rarely bother holding our breath. By noon tomorrow, people may pass out. Rumors are already starting to trickle out on Twitter that Regier is ready to open the bidding with a 5-year, $50 million offer for Brad Richards, the jewel of 2011 free agency.
A little while back on our one-night-bender, I mean, NYC Sabres Summit, the DGWUS crew took an informal poll asking what Richards could mean for the team. Scizz & Yachter thought Richards could equal a Cup right away, while the Barrister & I believed more talent was needed to break through. But today, it’s hard to argue that signing a top-level center tomorrow wouldn’t be enough to throw our hat in with the other Stanley Cup contenders for next season.
Ok, so maybe it’s a little early to start booking hotel rooms near HSBC Arena next June, but this is about as exciting as Buffalo Sabres hockey can get outside of a rink.