It was a quiet day in Sabre Land until Darcy made one of his trademark sensible signings to bring Jordan Leopold into the fold. The money may be a bit much, but that’s the price to pay for being the GM of the reputation-maligned Buffalo Sabres. Let’s have a look at and get to know the Blue and Gold’s newest member.
Let’s see…he was born in Golden Valley, MN, played for the U of Minnesota Golden Gophers (where he won the 2002 Hobey Baker Award), and was picked 44th overall in the second round by the then Mighty Ducks in 1999. He’s a 9 year veteran of the NHL, amassing 40g and 135pts in 436 games while adding a -17 rating and 190 PIMS in the regular season. In his five trips to the playoffs, he’s scored 15pts in 54 games with a +7 rating and 20 PIMS. He’s got a wife and three kids, and can grow a solid ginger beard. He’s also got a history of concussion problems, most recently being run over by Andy Sutton (the hit that gave birth to the famous “Are you an expert? Did you see the replay?” incident and meme).
After being signed, The Buffalo News’ John Vogel phoned the new Sabre. Let’s listen in:
“I’m excited. Right when I found out Buffalo was interested, I talked to Tommy Vanek, gave him a call, and my wife talked to his wife, we talked about the area. I’ve got three kids, and it’s one of those spots I really don’t know much about, but he filled me in and I was real excited and intrigued after that. I’m looking for a spot that’s good for the family, and my kids have fun while we go out and strive for goals.
“I think you look at it, they’re a playoff team every year. Goaltending-wise, they’ve got one of the best goaltenders in the league. Defense, the young defenseman Myers there, he’s an up-and-coming attraction and definitely a top player in the league already at a young age. I can hopefully complement him a little bit. We’ve got some good-scoring forwards. I think it was the whole package for myself, my family, hockey – for what I was looking for, Buffalo was a good spot for me.”
On his power-play status, which didn’t come into play in Florida or Pittsburgh last season: “I was more of a secondary guy in both spots. I didn’t see a lot of first power-play time, but who knows? All those things are earned through training camp and through the year. Who knows where they see me on that, but if called upon I definitely feel I can contribute somewhat.”
On anything else Vanek told him: “He told me the wings are really good there.”
On going from Florida to Pittsburgh and Buffalo: “It’s important to play in a market that sees hockey as a No. 1 game. … To be in a market where people see hockey as a headliner is nice. It is refreshing, and I think my kids enjoy it more than anything.”
I like it. He phones a fellow Golden Gopher to chat about the area and decides he likes the region before even moving in, he’s excited to play with Miller and Myers, he’s ready to battle to earn a top spot, he’s already been given the head’s up that our wings ain’t nothin’ to f*** with, and he clearly values playing in true hockey cities (who wouldn’t?). Does he have eyes on playing the LHD to Myers’ RHD? If it drives him to claim that spot next to the Wunderkind, good for him.
The money is a bit steep for his production (I would’ve only given him $2M for three years), but the Buffalo Sabres have a price to pay for mis-managing players and that’s over-paying players to sign here now. Even with the slight over-payment, I like the pick. He’s a small upgrade over Tallinder I think, and as I said earlier he’s another one of Darcy’s signature sensible signings.
Darcy said he isn’t done yet, with plans on signing a couple more guys, letting one or two Pirates earn a spot with the big club, and maybe even shaking up the roster with a big trade. I wasn’t happy with the draft but I am patient this free agency period. The market for players that fill Buffalo’s holes wasn’t exactly strong, so I didn’t expect Regier to make a big splash. Here’s hoping he continues to improve the team instead of testing my patience.