A couple of weeks ago, a Buffalo Sabres fire sale video started making the rounds on YouTube. While the clip proved to be amusing, rebuilding the Sabres is not a laughing matter to General Manger Darcy Regier.
The project reached another stage Monday night with veteran free-agent-to-be Robyn Regehr opting to waive his no-trade clause in exchange for the life of a King. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound defenseman accepted a trade to the Los Angeles Kings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, pending the results of a physical. In return, L.A. sent the Sabres second-round draft choices in 2014 and 2015.
The Kings do not have a first-round pick in this June’s draft and so were reluctant to part with this year’s second rounder.
“He expressed an interest in remaining here,” Regier told The News late Monday night. “We had some preliminary discussions relevant to the contract. Ultimately we made the decision that we were going to move him. He was fine with the opportunity.”
Adam Pardy was recalled to take Regehr’s spot, giving the Sabres six defensemen.
There could be more deals in Sabreland before Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline as the 13th-place Sabres appear to be in clearance mode. There are multiple reports Sabres captain Jason Pominville has been asked for a list of the eight teams he’d refuse to go to in a trade. His agent, Normand Dupont, didn’t return messages left for him by The News seeking confirmation. Pominville has one year left on his deal, with a salary cap hit of $5.3 million.
The club also announced center Luke Adam has been called up from the Rochester Americans. Adam was sent to the minors after 52 games last year. His return could be a security move in the event ailing wingers Ville Leino (lower body) and Thomas Vanek (upper body) can’t skate tonight against the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
Or, it could be a signal a deal is in works involving another forward.
Regier has said he’s willing to trade anybody if the price is right. Monday’s deal completes a three-day stretch in which he’s traded two defensemen in exchange for four draft picks.
The Sabres sent veteran Jordan Leopold to St. Louis in exchange for a second-round pick and a conditional fifth that could become a fourth rounder Saturday. Last month, Buffalo sent rookie blue-liner T.J. Brennan to Florida for a fifth-round pick.
“We have to be realistic about where we are and the direction we’re going,” Regier said. “And in this case, it was important to take advantage of getting draft picks and to use those draft picks to build.”
With the Kings in need of defensive depth, especially with reliable stay-at-home veterans Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene injured, Regehr provides a stabilizing presence on their blue line.
The 32-year-old, 13-season veteran blocks a lot of shots (385 for his career) and willingly throws his weight around in corners and in front of the net. He’s scored 30 goals and recorded 170 points in 931 games and has a reputation of being a solid locker room guy.
“Another #greatteammate dealt: Good luck in LA Robyn!” tweeted Buffalo defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
Regehr didn’t return a message left by The News after the deal. Earlier Monday, Regehr didn’t shoot down the idea of waiving his no-movement clause if approached by Sabres management provided it was the right situation.
Apparently a chance at winning a ring proved to be more attractive than Hockey Heaven.
The closest he’s ever gotten to hoisting the Stanley Cup was back in 2004 when he and the Calgary Flames lost Game Seven in Tampa Bay after having a 3-2 series lead and failing to clinch on home ice. The Kings, who became the first No. 8 seed to ever win the Cup last year, stand in fifth place in the rugged Western Conference and began expressing interest in Regehr two weeks ago.
Everything fell into place Monday.
“We indicated to him that we were going to look toward next season and we’re really going to look toward building this team not just to move it into the playoffs but to go deep into the playoffs,” Regier said. “No one is quite sure of the time line but we’re certainly going to focus on next season.”
Should Pominville wind up being dealt, it would extend a run in which players wearing the Sabres’ captain’s ‘C’ – from Lindy to Pat Lafontaine, Michael Peca, Danny Briere and Chris Drury – have departed.
The 30-year-old Pominville has 10 goals and 23 points in 36 games. He has just one goal in his last seven games and three points in his past 10. The 2001 second-round pick has recorded 185 goals and 454 points in 577 games.
News Sports Reporter John Vogl contributed to this report.