Vulgar Statistics: Reviewing Darcy Regier
The ship of opinion on Darcy Regier as an NHL GM has largely sailed, with the evidence of a putrid Sabres squad sitting before him and damning him. While that alone is enough to be a indictment in today’s NHL (and rightfully so), I wanted to see if I could put numbers to his skills and ineptitudes (because I feel he does come with both).
I relegated myself to the years between the lockouts for a few reasons. First, finding reputable sources for moves that were made before the era of Wikipedia and Capgeek is incredibly difficult. Second, as the NHL and hockey in general are fluid entities, it doesn’t make much sense to judge someone on what they did ten years ago. I don’t even feel entirely comfortable judging him on what he did seven years ago. But here we are.
This isn’t the sort of analysis that comes with advanced figures or a world of depth and nuance. It’s what is probably my bread and butter, a ton of legwork that no one thought (or wanted) to do coupled with simplified analysis that paints a decent, if vague, picture.
I essentially took every player that Regier has given up via trade and free agency (keeping them as separate categories), and matched those stats against every player that Darcy has acquired. I realize there are many limitations to this method, but I figured with dozens of players and seven years worth of hockey, the sheer sample size would help smooth some of that out.
I chose not to look at drafting because comparing the stats of 1,470ish NHL players (7 years * 7 rounds * 30 teams) was too much for even me. Considering the sort of young talent that has come up through Buffalo, I think most of us can admit that Darcy is an adequate drafter, or that drafting is such a crapshoot anyway, his impact is minimized. When drafting, you are essentially mining raw materials and what really matters is how the coaches refine those materials. (And the scouts do a ton of the legwork anyway.) I think a GM makes his money on trades and in free agency, and that includes deciding who is worth re-signing and who should be allowed to walk.
Take a deep breath if you’re reading this out loud.
Since the 05-06 season Darcy has traded Mika Noronen, Martin Biron, Brian Campbell, Mikael Tellqvist, Nathan Paetsch, Paul Gaustad, Milan Bartovic, Jan Hejda, Clarke MacArthur, Chris Butler, Paul Byron, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Zack Kassian, Taylor Pyatt, Jiri Novotny, Ales Kotalik, Daniel Paille, Steve Montador, T.J Brennan, a 2006 3rd (John Armstrong), two 2007 4ths (Mark Santorelli and Keith Aulie), a 2007 5th (Michael Neal), a 2008 1st (Colten Teubert), a 2008 3rd (Andrew Campbell), a 2008 7th (Drew Daniels), two 2009 2nds (Jesse Blacker and William Wrenn), a 2009 3rd (Ryan Howse), two 2010 2nds (Petr Straka and Mark Alt), a 2011 2nd (Joel Edmundson), a 2012 4th (Loic Leduc), and a 2013 4th…
…Toni Lydman, Dainius Zubrus, Steve Bernier, Mikael Tellqvist, Raffi Torres, Brad Boyes, Ty Conklin, Dominic Moore, Ales Kotalik, Robyn Regehr, Cody Hodgson, Alexander Sulzer, Mikko Lehtonen, Craig Rivet, a 2006 2nd (Jhonas Enroth), a 2007 2nd (T.J. Brennan), two 2007 5ths (Bradley Eidsness and Jean-Simon Allard), a 2007 7th (Nick Eno), a 2008 1st (Tyler Myers), a 2008 3rd (Corey Fienhage), a 2008 4th (Justin Jokinen), two 2010 3rds (Jerome Gauthier-Leduc and Kevin Sundher), a 2010 4th (Steven Shipley), a 2010 7th (Riley Boychuk), a 2012 1st (Zemgus Girgensons), a 2012 2nd (Jake McCabe), a 2012 7th (Judd Peterson), and a 2013 5th.
What does that even mean, aside from the fact that the people Darcy trades picks to GMs who can’t draft worth a sh*t? (Seriously, look at those names.) Well it means that Darcy:
Gave up – 4,681 games played, 586 goals (.44 g/60), and 1,130 assists (.77 a/60)
Acquired – 5,026 games played, 777 goals (.56 g/60), and 1,310 assists (.84 a/60)
Well okay then. There have been good trades and bad trades, but what the above tells us is that Darcy Regier’s trades have been a slightly above average wash. (The goalies probably even each other out too.) What bothers me is that he seems to try to win trades more than he tries to fill needs, but no numbers will ever prove that. I’d probably give him a C+ as a trading GM. Maybe a B- with the Hodgson trade looking better and better. Still, trading is a small part of a GM’s duties. Let’s move on.
Again this is a very, very simplified analysis. Beyond the production is the actual contracts, but I think that even this is telling.
Darcy has signed Teppo Numinen, Jaroslav Spacek, Jocelyn Thibeault, Patrick Lalime, Steve Montador, Jordan Leopold, Nolan Pratt, Mathieu Darche, Joe DiPenta, Rob Niedermayer, Jean-Phillippe Lamoreaux, Dennis McCauley, Matt Ellis (waivers), Cody McCormick, Shaone Morrisonn, Mike Grier, Colin Stuart, Jeff Cowan, Mark Parrish, and David Leggio…
…and let walk…
…Alexei Zhitnik, Jay McKee, Miroslav Satan, Mike Grier, Danny Briere, Dmitri Kalinin, Brad Brown, Doug Janik, Chris Drury, Andy Delmore, Michael Leighton, Dainius Zubrus, Rory Fitzpatrick, Ty Conklin, J.P. Dumont, Jaroslav Spacek, Henrik Tallinder, Mikael Tellqvist, Maxim Afinogenov, Toni Lydman, Dominic Moore, Raffi Torres, Adam Mair, and Tim Kennedy.
Again, the goalies are probably a wash.
Signed – 5,003 games played, 465 goals (.44 g/60), 926 assists (.64 a/60)
Let Walk – 7,751 games played, 1,219 goals (.52 g/60), 2,146 assists (.97 a/60)
You can take Briere and Drury out of the equation and it’s still ugly. And you can do this test a bunch of different ways, some statistical and some not. Quick name the best contracts that Darcy has signed. What do you have, Andrej Sekera (2.75), Tyler Ennis (2.81), Jason Pominville (5.3), Ryan Miller (6.25), Ehrhoff (4.0), with at least a few of those debatable? Now name the bad ones. Jochen Hecht (3.525), Paul Gaustad (2.3), Tim Connolly (4.5), Drew Stafford (4.0), Ville Leino (4.5), Cody McCormick (1.2), Tyler Myers (5.5), and several others, most of them fairly evident.
If I were to grade Darcy, I would probably give him an A in the draft, a C+ in making trades, and an F in handling free agency. All that adds up to mediocrity, which is what the Sabres have been for some time. If you’re the Sabres, and you’re looking to be the best in every phase, Darcy is not a fit, at least not with the full duties of a General Manager. If he were willing to curb is ego and give up his GM duties in favor of running the scouting department, he might still have a place in this organization, but I don’t know that he would ever do that.