When looking at recent trades by Sabres GM Darcy Regier, you have to look at them through the lens of a rebuilding team. It’s about stockpiling future assets and increasing your odds at the draft table by accumulating late-round picks. But it’s also about keeping structure in the current NHL lineup as best you can.
So, here is a rundown of every trade made by the Sabres GM since February of 2012 until now, with a brief writeup on each. And, at the bottom, we have the total payoff listed out. Did Regier do a good job transitioning to a rebuild?
To Buffalo: 2012 first round pick
To Nashville: Paul Gaustad and 2013 fourth round pick (Felix Girard)
Result: The Sabres won the trade, hands down. How in the world GM Darcy Regier picked up a first round pick for a throwaway pick and Gaustad is a minor miracle. Gaustad has four goals in 59 games (playoff and regular season) with the Predators since the deal, while the first-rounder was used in this next trade.
To Buffalo: 2012 first-rounder (Zemgus Girgensons)
To Calgary: 2012 first-rounder (Mark Jankowski) 2012 second-rounder (Patrick Sieloff)
Result: The actual winner of this won’t be determined for a number of years and, on the surface, you might say Calgary won, since they’re the rebuilding team that ended up with two pretty decent prospects. But Buffalo could afford to spend some of its “futures” to get the draft eligible prospect they wanted in Girgensons. Remember, the Sabres also picked up Mikhail Grigorenko in the same draft, so they may have scooped up two top nine (or top six) forwards that day.
To Buffalo: Cody Hodgson, Alexander Sulzer
To Vancouver: Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani
Result: Forget about the two pieces who are not presently in the NHL – this was a Hodgson for Kassian swap. And how the heck did Regier trick Canucks GM Mike Gillis into this one? Hodgson logs the most minutes per game of all Sabres forwards and has nine points in 13 games. He has 51 points in 81 games since arriving in Buffalo. Kassian, on the other hand, averages 12:54, has a grand total of 15 points in 71 games (regular- and post-season) with Vancouver, and was suspended five regular season games this season. If truculence is what Vancouver wanted out of the deal, they paid a hefty price to get it.
To Buffalo: Jamie McBain and a 2013 second-rounder (J.T. Compher)
To Carolina: Andrej Sekera
Result: In McBain, the Sabres got a puck-moving defenseman who will be an RFA when his contract runs out in the summer, so they’ll keep control over him. They gave up a slightly less productive defenseman who is older and will become a UFA when his contract expires in a year. Not bad one-for-one. But when you consider the Sabres also picked up a pick they turned into J.T. Compher and, again, it’s a deal the Sabres win hands-down. Compher has 12 points in 13 WJC games and has five assist in his first six games with the University of Michigan this season. The 18-year-old 5-foot-11, 185-pound forward has a lot of potential on the table.
To Buffalo: Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett, 2013 first round pick (Nikita Zadorov) and 2014 second round pick
To Minnesota: Jason Pominville
Result: Everyone knew Buffalo was going to trade Jason Pominville, so the fact they got a haul of this magnitude was another piece of great work by Regier. Instead of waiting for Pominville’s last season under contract, like the Flames did with Jarome Iginla, Regier took charge of the inevitable and picked up a solid return. Larsson, a 2010 second-rounder, scored 41 points in 69 AHL games last season, his first in North America. He’s played 11 games with the Sabres so far this season and, while he doesn’t have a point, he’s only getting 11:47 of ice and is being eased into the top level. Hackett has had a slow start to this season, but is a developing 23-year-old goalie who will be considered in long-term plans after Miller leaves. The first-rounder became Nikita Zadorov, who is already seeing NHL action. In four games he’s averaging 16:24 of ice and has a goal – the towering 16th overall pick has all sorts of long-term potential. And the Sabres still have a second-rounder they’ve yet to use for this deal. All this for a player they were losing anyway.
To Buffalo: Steve Ott, Adam Pardy
To Dallas: Derek Roy
Result: This one wasn’t a move for the long-term future, but that’s OK, because at some point you’re current NHL team needs structure. Ott will never be a legit first-liner or anything, but he brings character and leadership that has earned him the captaincy already. His contract is up after this season, so Ott could hypothetically still be moved for futures anyway. Meanwhile, Roy has settled in as a serviceable – but replaceable – 20-goal scorer who gets paid $1 million more against the cap than Ott.
To Buffalo: 2013 second-rounder (Justin Bailey), 2013 fifth-rounder (Anthony Florentino)
To St. Louis: Jordan Leopold
Result: Leopold is a serviceable vet who averages 16 minutes a night on one of the best blue lines in the league. So it was a good little pickup for the Blues and didn’t cost them anything of great value. And while the Sabres didn’t crank a grand slam with this one, they got what they needed: more stuff to stockpile the future with. Bailey is a good contributor for OHL Kitchener, while Florentino is a freshman with Providence College who will play the long game. Nothing special, but exactly the kind of return the Sabres hope will add up to a brighter future.
To Buffalo: 2014 and 2015 second round draft picks
To Los Angeles: Robyn Regehr
Result: The Sabres got Regehr and Ales Kotalik for Chris Butler and Paul Byron in the first place, so the fact they turned one of those players into second round picks from consecutive draft years is pretty solid. The Sabres have yet to turn one of those picks into a player, so the end result is still years away from being defined. But, again, the Sabres added to their draft pick pool and a chance for a pay out down the line.
To Buffalo: Henrik Tallinder
To New Jersey: Riley Boychuk
Result: Again, this is about structure on the current team – and the fact Tyler Myers played so well with Tlalinder as his partner during his Calder Trophy season factored in. Boychuk is in the ECHL right now, so this is also an easy win for Buffalo.
To Buffalo: 2013 fifth-rounder (Cal Petersen)
To Florida: TJ Brennan
Result: More stockpiling for throwaway talent. Brennan had no future with Buffalo, so why not add a pick to the list for a possible payoff? Petersen is in the USHL right now and has a .928 SP so far this season. Long time until this trade shows us if anything comes of it.
To Buffalo: Matt Moulson, 2014 first round pick, 2015 second round pick
To NY Islanders: Thomas Vanek
Result: The Sabres got some nice draft picks and a 30-goal-scoring pending UFA who they’ll likely turn around and get another first-rounder for. Again, everyone knew Vanek was going to get moved at some point, so the return – everything the Sabres need at this point – was a good one.
Zemgus Girgensons, Cody Hodgson, Alexander Sulzer, Jamie McBai, J.T. Compher, Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett, Nikita Zadorov, 2014 second rounder, Steve Ott, Adam Pardy, Justin Bailey, Anthony Florentino, 2014 second-rounder, 2015 second-rounder, Henrik Tallinder, Cal Petersen, Matt Moulson, 2014 first round pick, 2015 second round pick
OUT OF BUFFALO
Paul Gaustad, Felix Girard, Mark Jankowski, Patrick Sieloff, Zack Kassian, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Andrej Sekera, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, Jordan Leopold, Robyn Regehr, Riley Boychuk, T.J. Brennan, Thomas Vanek.
I’d take it. What do you think of Regier’s work?
Correction: Jason Pominville was listed as a pending UFA, when he had one season remaining on his contract.