Before free agency even began, the only thing Regier did was re-sign Mike Grier, which is a solid move. That still left six unrestricted free agents on the team, leaving around $14 million of space left to sign players.
Martin Biron was one of the first moves on Thursday, signing with the New York Rangers for under $900,000 for two years. Are you kidding me?! Unless Biron really doesn’t want to play for Buffalo, there is no reason Regier could not top that offer. Even if it was for $1.3 per year, he would have been a solid pickup.
Shortly after, we watched Gonchar get signed, followed by Volchenkov and Coburn. Henrik Tallinder became an ex-sabres by signing a four year deal with New Jersey for $3.3 million. After Anaheim signed Lydman, the “fire Darcy” comments build up once again.
Finally, Regier signed Jordan Leopold for three years, totaling nine million. With that signing compared to Tallinder or Lydman’s, it is an obvious downgrade on defense. Out of the three, I would have chosen Leopold last.
Leopold has only played more than 60 games twice in the last six seasons. He rarely plays physical and will not improve the team’s toughness. He is an offensive defenseman that will score 20-30 points at best.
Hopefully he will be a good fit in Buffalo, but there is no reason Regier couldn’t sign Tallinder to a similar contract like the Devils did. Basically, Regier got rid of, what I think, two of the top three defenseman on the team.
Tyler Myers is obviously locked in on the first pairing, but with who? Him and Tallinder shared similar abilities with their height and worked well together. Craig Rivet may not make it back in time due to surgery. Plus, Rivet didn’t perform that well when he was healthy.
It was only day one of free agency, but Buffalo missed out on a lot of opportunities. Regier can still make up for it in the next few days. If Regier can find a way to sign Tomas Kaberle or acquire Mark Streit in a trade, I will be satisfied with the defense.
There’s still around ten million left to spend and what the team needs is a backup goaltender and defense. Buffalo can still shop around Connolly, Roy, and Stafford as well. Bobby Ryan would be a great addition to the team on the top line with Vanek.
Darcy has to do something. There is no way he is done. Let’s see what Regier decides to do over the next few days. Fans have the right to be discouraged, but there are still plenty of opportunities for the Sabres to capitalize on.