Regardless of whether Calgary’s drive for the playoffs has legs to make it past the Feb. 28 trade deadline, it’s in the best interests of the franchise to trade reliable and loyal Robyn Regehr.
Along with Jarome Iginla, no Flame has been as much a leader on the ice, in the dressing room and throughout the community in the past decade as Regehr. But because Calgary is one of the oldest teams in the league and middling in the standings at best, it needs to consider trading its most marketable assets as it enters a rebuilding phase.
Think what you want about hanging on to Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff into their mid-30s through this rebuilding phase – I say consider trade offers for them as well – dealing Regehr is a no-brainer for several reasons.
First, his game has slipped from his once lofty standards. He’s susceptible to getting beat wide, his skating has lost a step and he has become prone to occasional giveaways in his own end. I’m not saying he has turned into lame-brained Dion Phaneuf, but I think we’ve all noticed he’s not the same premiere defensive defenseman he used to be.
Second, the game has evolved considerably since the 2004-05 lockout. Defensemen are expected to be mobile and proficient with the puck, to provide a second wave of attack when forwards are covered or thwarted. Regehr’s game is strictly stay at home.
Third, the Flames top four paid bueliners combine for $17 million, sixth highest in the league. That’s fine if the team is a Cup contender like Detroit ($19 million), Philadelphia ($18.6 million) and Chicago ($19.7 million), but isn’t fiscally responsible if it’s a pretender. Dallas, the Rangers, Nashville and Colorado have top four defensemen totalling less than $11 million in payroll.
Fourth, the Flames have to start making room for their in-the-system defensemen. With Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano and Cory Sarich already at $14.3 million combined next year, Calgary needs cheap alternatives at four, five, six and seven. Adam Pardy and Brendan Mikkelson look solid in support roles on the blueline. Tim Erixon and T.J. Brodie are excellent blue chip prospects and it’s next year or bust for 2005 first-rounder Matt Pelech.
I’m loathe to say there’s no room for 31-year-old Regehr next season, but if he can secure a first round pick and/or prospect at the trade deadline, it would be backward thinking not to make that trade.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.