Flames fans have been manning their posts since Thursday afternoon on the "Robyn Regehr Watch" and it seems like they’re getting closer to a destination. As of late Friday/early Saturday, FlamesNation and Sportsnet Radio can confirm that Regehr was asked to move his no-trade clause on Wednesday night, and after a roller coaster ride for him, he finally decided to accept a deal to the Sabres on Friday night; a ride we can now take you on, exclusively at FN.
Before we get into the order things went down, we’ll tell you what the rumored deal on the table is as it stands right now. TSN reported right at the end of the first round that Regehr, along with Ales Kotalik, would head to Buffalo in exchange for forward Paul Byron, blueliner Chris Butler and a second round pick (likely a 2012, as the Sabres don’t have one for this year). What do we know about these guys?
Butler is a 24 year old defenceman who has put up points at the NHL level, tallying 21 in 59 games one year ago. However, he’s also had a tough time staying in the lineup and has run into some injury issues, so there are some question marks surrounding him. Byron is a 21 year old forward with eight games to his NHL name to this point after being drafted in the sixth round back in 2007. He’s put up decent numbers in the AHL, but nothing jumps off the page at you as an impact NHLer.
The request caught Regehr totally off guard, and all day Thursday he really was mulling things over with his family to see whether accepting a trade to Buffalo was the smart idea. But Regehr, having to don his "independent contractor" hat by necessity, wanted to explore his options. We were able to confirm late Friday afternoon Regehr had informed the Flames he would not be waiving his clause to go to Buffalo, which is 100% his right.
But this wasn’t a Dany Heatley type thing, as the feeling was Regehr wanted to see what other interest was out there and make an informed decision. It is factual to say he did block a trade from happening on Friday before likely sitting down and watching the festivities play out on the draft floor in St. Paul. That’s when things started to change.
When news started to filter through that John-Michael Liles had been traded to Toronto, Brent Burns had been traded to San Jose and Brian Campbell had been shipped off to Florida, the writing became a whole lot more clear on the wall. Both Florida and San Jose were interested parties in obtaining Regehr’s services during the standoff between him and the Flames, but both made deals to bring in other defencemen during the draft. All of a sudden, the market for Robyn had dryed up pretty quickly, and one thing had been clear for a number of hours: he wasn’t coming back to Calgary.
We spoke to Darcy Regeir, the GM of the Buffalo Sabres, during the draft and he said by no means is the Regehr deal off the table. So, as Buffalo kept their offer in play, or at the very least their interest in play, Regehr eventually decided to accept the trade and join the Sabres. In the end, the interest just wasn’t as hot as many might have thought, and with some big moves made at the draft, the market for him dwindled to the point when Buffalo really was the only option.
If this is in fact the deal that is going to be done, I’m not a huge fan. I get that you’re shipping out a bad, bad contract in Kotalik, and yes, that’s a positive. But you’re also shipping out, in my eyes, your most important defenceman on the team. That’s fine, because I know the team needs to go in a different direction; sometimes, change has to be made. But for me, Regehr was Calgary’s most marketable asset, and I wanted them to make sure it was a worthwhile trade.
Maybe this makes room for something else that changes the way you look at this one, but isolating it, I’d rather have seen Regehr stay and see if you couldn’t find another avenue to rid yourself of Kotalik. But, I do know that I can lose objectivity when this particular player is involved, because I’m a very large fan of his. All we can do is wait and see.