Vulgar Opinions: Pegulanati
We know what we know, and from there we can only speculate, but there is perhaps something brewing in Buffalo, New York, the likes of which the NHL has never seen before. We know that Vanek enjoyed his time in Buffalo, but we also know that he wasn’t willing to stick around for a long rebuild. We know that beneath the mild-mannered, grandfatherly veneer of Darcy Regier lies an evil mastermind, the one that convinced the Nashville Predators that Paul Gaustad was worth a first round pick.
At some earlier point during the season a meeting went down between Darcy, Vanek, and the uppermost levels of the Sabres organization. The plan was simple, to figure out how to placate Vanek by speeding up the rebuilding process. Everyone in the NHL knows that Vanek is an elite player, and the Sabres know what they’ll be dealing with in terms of negotiations when Vanek becomes a free agent. However, the Sabres were missing a few pieces that could catalyze their resurgence. Those pieces? How about Matt Moulson and a couple of high picks.
Vanek has been a Buffalo man through and through, so much so that is it really out of the question that he’s still a Buffalo man? Let’s look at the facts: since acquiring Vanek the Islanders are 4-12-2. Sure they have an option to defer the first round pick, but with the potential of losing Vanek, and now missing out on Lundqvist hanging in their faces, it isn’t looking pretty. I think Darcy Regier sent Vanek to Long Island, not only to destroy the Islanders, but to bring back a king’s ransom that would aid the Sabres in re-signing Vanek once his double agent work is complete.
Of course it’s crazy to think that a team could use a player to destroy another team and then re-sign them after their work is done and get away with it. Unless you fire the GM. With Darcy Regier canned, (two weeks later so as to not seem suspicious) the Sabres now have their plausible deniability. No one is going to think the Islanders were intentionally jilted if the new GM comes out and says they think letting Vanek go was a mistake and they intend to rectify it. The Sabres are poised to soon hold Vanek, Moulson, an extra first and an extra second round pick.
It’s as brilliant as it is devastating.
But it goes deeper. The Islanders thought they would be contenders this year, and here they sit mired at the bottom of an especially weak Metropolitan Division. General Manager Garth Snow has to be feeling the heat of missing out on Lundqvist and a Vanek deal gone sour. When he’s fired, who do you think is going to be on the short list to replace him? Darcy Regier. And who might be available to coach? Why Interim Head Coach Ted Nolan. And the best part is, they don’t even have to be careful. They can win and win and win, so long as they’re ready to take a fall when the time comes.
Checkmate, Eastern Conference.