If there’s one obvious flaw within the Buffalo Sabres’ roster, it’s on the blueline. Ryan Miller provides world-class goaltending and Lindy Ruff can choose from a versatile fleet of forwards, but their defensemen often leave Miller on an island.
Former Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter left his team in a wretched state. If the 2011-12 season began today, the Flames would have the highest payroll of all 30 teams with $57.25 million committed to 19 players. That might be an acceptable situation for a perennial contender, but the Flames haven’t made the playoffs since 08-09.
New Flames GM Jay Feaster wants to make some changes, most notably by shedding salary. Many believe that new Sabres owner Terry Pegula yearns to drop some dough on his new team to make it a truer contender. With a weak free agent market for defensemen on the way, it seems like the Flames and Sabres might be in an ideal situation for a trade.
Now they just need to convince rugged Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr to waive his no-movement clause to make something happen. The Buffalo News reports that Regehr is still weighing his options, which might give a different NHL club the chance to swoop in and snatch Regehr from Buffalo’s clutches. The precise details of the possible deal aren’t clear right now, but it is believed that the Sabres would trade picks and prospects for Regehr.
Adding Regehr might be a strong step in the right direction for Buffalo. While some believe Regehr lost a few steps in the last couple seasons, he’s been a top shutdown defenseman in Calgary for years (particularly during their run to the Stanley Cup finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning) and he managed to play 75 games or more for the last five seasons. If he waives his no-movement clause, Regehr would open up salary cap space for the Flames ($4.02 million cap hit in 11-12 and 12-13) while giving the Sabres a dependable defensive presence.
On paper, it seems like a deal that could work for both sides (without knowing what the Sabres would send to Calgary, of course), but Regehr wanted that clause in his contract to control his situation. It might be awkward in the clubhouse if he denies the Flames’ urge to send him to Buffalo, but that’s his choice. We’ll keep an eye on this situation during what could be a busy Friday of draft day trades.