Right around February 1 last season, a certain phrase became popular on Twitter among Buffalo Sabres fans: "Do something Darcy."
That certainly was not the first time last season that the phrase was a common thought amongst Sabres fans, and it was not the last. But at that point, with the trade deadline fast approaching and the Sabres' playoff chances minimal at best, the cries for Darcy Regier to make a move—any move really—were as loud as ever.
Fast forward to today, a little over a month from when training camps will open across the NHL, and the Sabres' roster has seen a substantial amount of change since then.
Gone are "core" players Paul Gaustad and Derek Roy. Prized prospect Zack Kassian has joined them on the train out of town, along with once-touted Marc-Andre Gragnani.
In are young and talented centers Cody Hodgson and Mikhail Grigorenko. Size and scrappiness have made an appearance as well, with Steve Ott and John Scott joining the ranks. Depth defenseman Alexander Sulzer and Adam Pardy have given the Sabres upwards of 10 NHL-ready back-enders.
So, what is there left to do?
The long awaited No. 1 center has not been acquired, as far as Sabres fans know. The goaltending depth is far from deep, with unproven players waiting in the wings behind Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth.
But the team does have its strengths.
The defensive corps may not be the most supremely talented in the league, but one can easily say that the team has at least five top-four defenseman on the team, with an argument to be made for as many as seven.
At the wing positions there is ample goal scoring talent, with more talent coming up the pipeline in Rochester and the junior leagues.
So, the question is, what can be done to shore up the weaknesses without hampering our strengths?
That is the question Regier needs to decide for this team moving forward, and it certainly is not an easy one for him to answer.
The Bobby Ryan saga has now taken a backseat to the Shane Doan one, but Ryan remains the most plausible (and talked about) target for the Sabres right now. That's certainly not to say he's the best target or the most likely target, just the one that makes the most sense compared to the other options that have been discussed by reputable sources.
Sure, Doan would be great for this team. Instant leadership. Instant grit. Instant offensive upside. Instant defensive zone responsibility.
But the numbers that have been floating around the league as to what it will take to land Doan financially, and it just does not seem like a sound investment for a 35-year-old who has taken his bumps and bruises during a long NHL career.
Why no deal yet?
The easy, speculative answer is that the price for Ryan is ridiculously high right now. The last trade that was anywhere near this magnitude—Rick Nash to the Rangers—took over five months to be completed, mainly because Columbus' general manager Scott Howson wanted hockey's version of a small fortune for him.
Forget the talks from last November, there's no way Ryan Miller is going anywhere now. The reset button was hit somewhere around the end of the season, so it's not completely illogical for it to still be dragging on. However, there are no solid reports on any offers or asking prices for Ryan out there right now, so all that to be done is to guess.
But, with no resolution in sight with Ryan, may Regier look elsewhere?
Philadelphia is hurting on defense right now, likely losing Andrej Meszaros for the season to an Achilles tear. Chris Pronger's return is nowhere in sight and Matt Carle left for Tampa Bay in free agency. Could the two teams vying for Ryan look to each other instead?
Other teams light on defense, like the Minnesota Wild, despite their signing of Ryan Suter, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Edmonton Oilers or the New York Islanders may prove to be viable trading partners.
Basically, there are improvements to be made to the team. Regier has the assets to make it work with the right team.
What else do you think he should do?
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