Some have said that the Buffalo Sabres are a team with a recruiting problem. Just because Shane Doan and Bobby Ryan aren't living in Lake Erie condos right now, doesn't mean that Buffalo has become Hockey Siberia. When I look at Darcy Regier's body of work in the past 18 months, I'm happy with the progress that he has made in weeding his garden in Buffalo. He's articulately subtracted Gaustad, Roy,Connolly, Hecht, and Boyes. He's dipped his foot in the Western conference pool to find experienced, difference makers in Regehr, Ehrhoff, Leino, Hodgson, and Ott. Regier and his scouts identified, then targeted the players whom they feel will best lead the Sabres to a long, sustained run in the NHL Playoffs. The Sabres, on balance, are a much better team today than they were at this time last July. Credit goes to Regier for making smart, well thought out decisions on the direction that he wants the team to go in this season and beyond. I'm not saying that the Sabres are built to win the Stanley Cup this season. The roster boasts of more grit and will be tougher to play against than it was last season.
Like a dozen other organizations, Regier and the Sabres were interested in acquiring Parise and Suter. The cards were stacked against all of the suitors, save Minnesota. The Parise-Suter combo platter was an arranged marriage. The two players spoke about playing together in Minnesota and their wished were granted. Nothing you can do about it. It was a forgone conclusion that Parise and Suter would land in Minnesota. There's nothing more that Regier, Holmgren and the other suitors could have done to pry Parise-Suter away from Minnesota.
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There will be those who want to bag on Regier and the Sabres if/when they are not successful in their attempt to land Shane Doan and Bobby Ryan. Thats well within a fan or media member's right to criticize an organization for failure to sign UFAs or to make trades.
I see extenuating circumstances written all over the Doan situation. Doan doesn't want to uproot his wife and four kids from Phoenix only to move them to the other side of the hockey world. He'll leave, if and only if the Jamison group cannot get its financial house in order. If and when Doan does leave Zona, he'll likely end up in Montreal or Pittsburgh. Can't fault Regier for not trying to land Doan, whom the Sabres have made a bonafide contract offer to.
In the case of Ryan, the Ducks have never officially declared to the hockey world that the talented winger is in fact on the trade market. If the Sabres can't land Ryan, don't blame Regier. Ryan's old man and former Flyer GM, Bobby Clarke, are friends from way back in the day. Holmgren needs to save face with his rabid fan base. He can do so by acquiring a Jersey marlin like Bobby Ryan.