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Robyn Regehr Headed To Buffalo At Last

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Now that he’s gotten over his much-publicized indecisive feeling on the idea of leaving the only pro hockey team he’s ever known, Robyn Regehr is on his way to the foot of Washington St and he’s bringing former Sabre Ales Kotalik and a 2012 2nd round draft pick back with him.

The Sabres are sending Chris Butler’s negotiating rights and center prospect Paul Byron back to Calgary. The deal is now complete having been announced at the podium during the second round of the NHL Entry Draft today.

As noted by both Regehr and his (and Tim Connolly’s) agent JP Barry, Terry Pegula played an instrumental role in convincing the veteran to come to Buffalo. Surely Rhett Warrener’s pitch job for the ages, which included texting his former teammate during the Sabres’ alumni night, and the Sharks trading for Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns played no small part in helping Regehr make his decision either. In the end, the newest Sabre had glowing praise for his new home. From the Calgary Herald, ‘“I couldn’t find anyone to say anything bad about Buffalo,” Regehr said earlier in the day. “Everyone enjoyed the people, the city. Nobody said anything negative about the city.”’

From my Friday night post about the trade:

Regehr is the kind of defenseman that the Sabres desperately need – big, strong, durable, and mean. A fair comparison is Toni Lydman, only bigger (6’3″, 225lbs) and with more snarl. His plays a physical yet smart brand of hockey (2010/2011: 180 hits, 142 blocked shot, and only 58 penalty minutes). He’d immediately become one of the most durable skaters on the Sabres’ back end (29 missed games since the end of the lockout). He’s the kind of stay at home defenseman the Sabres need to keep the crease clear and partner with Myers on the top pair.

Besides his positional stay-at-home play and frightening hits along the perimeter, Regehr also brings with him that steady veteran presence that the Sabres really need along the blue line. He’d be the perfect partner for Myers and his free-wheeling offensive game, plus he’s an ideal mentor for both Myers and Weber in developing their defensive game and evolving their tempers.

Regehr is 31 years old and has two years left on his contract with a cap hit of $4.02M per year. He is, to put it simply, a gnarly hombre but he has a soft side. His previous charity work in Calgary saw him donate money for every hit he delivered throughout the season and he’s also very active in the Right To Play foundation.

As for Kotalik returning to the only club where he’s found any measure of success, it’s generally assumed that the big winger with the howitzer shot may not even see the ice at HSBC Arena. Darcy Regier may very well buy him out or he may waive him with the intent of sending him to the Rochester Americans. If it is expected that he’ll see time with the Sabres, the team will have to move one of their many right wingers under contract. All three (Drew Stafford, Brad Boyes, Jason Pominville) happen to have cap hits in excess of $4M, which may make any of them slightly harder to shift elsewhere.

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