For two days, the Buffalo Sabres sat in limbo waiting for Calgary Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr to decide whether to waive his no-move clause and accept a trade to Buffalo. In the process, Sabres fans built excitement like the team had just acquired Nicklas Lidstrom rather than the beat-up, mediocre blue liner Regehr actually is. He became the missing piece, the one to fill the gap between the Sabres losing in the first round and competing for the Stanley Cup. Before setting foot in Buffalo, he became Tyler Myers' new mentor and the locker room presence the team has lacked since Michael Peca wore a "C" on his sweater.
One blogger wrote: "He will take Myers by the ear and teach him how to be a pro." The Buffalo News said, "He's a physical presence on the blue line and a veteran leader, one who will help tutor a defense corps that has four players aged 25 or younger."
Leader or no, the reality is the Sabres just spent essentially $7 million on what will be their fifth-best defenseman. Regehr will make $4 million, but as part of the deal, Buffalo was forced to take replacement-level forward Ales Kotalik for $3 million. Last year, by Goals Versus Threshold (GVT), Steve Montador (9.8), Mike Weber (6.7), Jordan Leopold (8.7) and Tyler Myers (9.0) all ranked higher than Regehr (6.3). Four of those d-men will return in 2011-12. Rookie Marc Gragnani, who scored seven points in seven playoff games this year, is also expected to be in next year's lineup.
The old, "he'll make young players better" fallacy is running wild with the acquisition of Regehr. By that logic, shouldn't Shaone Morrisonn have made others better? What about Craig Rivet? There's something to be said for veteran leadership, but if the Sabres plan on putting Regehr on the front line with Myers, he'll be hurt more than helped. Myers had a difficult stretch to begin last season, but was elite during the second half and playoffs. The 6-foot-8 Calder Trophy winner makes other players better (See: Tallinder, Henrik), not the other way around.