Then comes today’s piece by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun which takes my particular brand of umbrage to the next level. The article talks about teams waiting to see what the market will be and general managers like Regier planning on waiting until the day or two before the deadline to act.
— “Most of us have players that we would make available even right now for a trade, either because they’re underperforming and/or overpaid,” Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier told us this week. “But it’s impossible right now to get an agreement on values. We’re all hoping that we’re going to be able to just charge a cost without taking anything back, and that’s not reality. So I think, yes, we’re all sitting around to the last day or two again [before the trade deadline].”
— “We’re getting a lot of pop out of our young kids,” Regier said. “Older players that we all believed in when we signed them aren’t performing at the levels that they’re capable of, or maybe we misjudged it. In some part, I think we could be selling veterans if we can sell them because we like what we see in our youth. I think it’s going to be really interesting.”
There are several things to take away from these quotes. For one, Regier doesn’t care if he reinforces the reputation that he falls in love with players he drafts. Two, it appears he’s admitting he has players he’d like to move, which is a nice departure from his normal stoicism.
The larger issue at stake is that Regier is admitting that GMs are still playing the “ideal” game and will be for a while before the market is set. It’s also as certain as it gets that that underperforming/overpaid combo fits the Tim Connolly bill.
So my guess would be Regier wants to move guys like Connolly, and that there is a market for such a player. What makes the situation more interesting is that the Sabres have made a push without their first-third MVP, Derek Roy, and with Ryan Miller posting numbers well off the Vezina precedent he set in 2009-10.
Regier just has to do it. Since December I’ve used my radio show and this space to say this team’s playoff goose isn’t cooked. The Sabres have a dog in the hunt in a bad division and worse conference. Montreal beat them to the jump a few weeks back when they acquired James Wisniewski to help fill the void left by their sparkplug, Andrei Markov. With Roy out until at least April, Regier had a look at addressing his need and making a run in a horrid Northeast group. So far, he’s balked.
Unlike the market for Chris Drury, Daniel Briere and Thomas Vanek, Regier has a chance to set the market for once. He can decide how high he would go to acquire, say, St. Louis’ David Backes, or how low he’d go to move a player that’s hurting the room or payroll.
Come the deadline, if we hear Regier say “the market was too steep” to bring in players that could help him, it will be his own fault. There’s no question. We also will not be able to complain about his being aloof, or that he’s not learned from his mistakes in the past. He stated in the quotes that someone will set the market.
Again, here’s his chance.