Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How Will Darcy Regier Fill These Roster Holes, Pt. 1

After laying out a pretty solid roster foundation from the goal out, there are some definite holes in key positions for the Sabres.

What will Darcy Regier and Co. do to fill them?


Owner Terry Pegula stated that the he would like to win the teams' first Stanely Cup within three years.

A somewhat daunting task, but certainly not insurmountable.

The team is built well on the back-end with plenty of skill and experience in net with Ryan Miller manning the crease. And with the back-up duties seemingly (hopefully, finally?) in the capable hands of Jhonas Enroth, that area of the team seems well covered for the next three years.

The defense has plenty of youth, skill and talent. Another year under their belts will give them that much more experience. Presently there are two veterans on the team--Shaone Morrisonn and Jordan Leopold--with the latter designated for top-four duties next season.

With goaltending set, here's the buffalosabresnow 2011/12 roster foundation on defense as laid out in previous blogs (with the bottom three spots here):
  • 1st-pairing: Tyler Myers, ?
  • 2nd-pairing: Jordan Leopold, Chris Butler
  • 3rd-pairing: Mike Weber, Marc-Andre Gragnani
  • reserve: ?
A top-pairing d-man should be a top priority for the Sabres this off-season. Although there's the possibility that any of Chris Butler, Mike Weber or Marc-Andre Gragnani could fill in up there, it would behoove the team to keep them in lesser roles to allow them to grow while maintaining a strong level of confidence.

Sooooo... who will fill that top-pairing spot?

Ideally a strong, stay-at-home, veteran d-man to hold the fort while Tyler Myers glides up ice. He should also be one who has enough experience and savvy to teach Myers the nuances of the game.

Since the Sabres look at Myers as a franchise d-man and will (hopefully) be looking to sign him to a very long-term contract--as well as a very expensive one--adding a franchise d-man in the mold of Nashville's Shea Weber may not be prudent. Although, admittedly, it would be a sick top-pairing for years to come.

Maybe they should look towards a two to three year player who will give Myers and the rest of the young d plenty of time to develop.

The buffalosabresnow choice to anchor the top-pairing with Myers would be:

Robyn Regehr

The big Brazilian has been an anchor for the Calgary Flames for years and has never wilted while facing the oppositions' top players. At 6'3" 225lbs, the physical shutdown d-man has been surprisingly healthy throughout his career having played in at least 68 games every year post lock-out.

Adding veteran d-man Robyn Regehr
would be a dream-scenario. Highly unlikely,
but nice to think about.
At 31 years old, Regehr follows the Rivet Rule Of Thumb when signing older, physical d-men.

Regehr has two more years on his contract with a $4M cap-hit.

According to capgeek, the Flames have 19 players signed at a cap-hit of just over $57M. With the cap expected to go up to $64M, it would leave them with about $7M in cap-space. Certainly not cap-hell, but it is pretty tight for them to sign four players while keeping some breathing room for in-season call-ups.

Although a trade with Calgary for Regehr--who does have a no-movement clause--is far-fetched, he would be an ideal d-man to fill that role.

With that in mind, Regier will probably look towards the free agent market, and the one who sticks out more than any other would be:

Jan Hejda

A former fourth-round pick of the Sabres (#106 overall, 2003,) Hejda has spent the last four years in Columbus with the Blue Jackets.

Known for his steady, unheralded play, the 6'3", 229lb defensive defenseman is said to be looking to test the free agency waters this off season.

Hejda, at 33, does conform to the Rivet Rule of Thumb having missed only 26 games over the last four seasons with the Jackets.

Not known for his offensive prowess (11 goals, 56 points in four years,) Hejda has averaged well over 21:00 of ice-time per game for the Jackets while going plus-23 over that time span (although he has been in the minus the last two seasons.)

Stay-at-home, Bill Hajt-type
defensive d-man Jan Hejda is the kind
of under-the-radar, reasonably-priced
free agent that Sabres' GM
Darcy Regier is known for acquiring.

Hejda is a Bill Hajt-type d-man who would make a solid partner for Myers. He made $2M last season and will probably get near $3M this off-season.

It's said he's looking for a longer-term contract, three years or more, which would be a good fit for the him and the Sabres.

All-in-all knowing the way Regier operates, the fact that Hejda is a quiet player, is affordable and is off pretty much every ones radar, it wouldn't surprise me if Hejda ends up in Buffalo for the next three seasons as a player that's looked upon as Myers' interim top-pairing d-partner.

As for the reserve spot on defense the Sabres will probably keep that one in-house.

Shaone Morrisson was a big disappointment for the team last season after he came back from injury. He's still signed for one more season at a little over $2.

The acquisition of UFA d-man Shaone Morrisonn
was questionable last off-season and remains
so this off-season.
There have been rumblings that he'll be sent to the AHL therefore burying his contract in the minors.

I'm really not buying into that one. He played really well with Myers at the beginning of last season before he was injured, and ya gotta give a player some time to acclimate to a new system.

My bet is that they keep him on the roster as a reserve d-man with the possibility of moving him at the deadline.

It'll be either Morrisonn or Andrej Sekera in that #7 slot and I believe that Sekera will be a tradeable asset for the Sabres.

The buffalosabresnow back-end for the 2011/12 season (additions in bold):


  • Ryan Miller
  • Jhonas Enroth
  • 1st-pairing: Tyler Myers, Jan Hejda 
  • 2nd-pairing: Jordan Leopold, Chris Butler
  • 3rd-pairing: Mike Weber, Marc-Andre Gragnani
  • reserve: Shaone Morrisson


  1. This clown has one thing to say


  2. LOL

    Good ta see ya pop up again, brother.