With two days remaining until the NHL's version of the Swap Meet (aka Trade Deadline day), Sabres GM Darcy Regier, like 29 other GMs around the league, is busy looking around the league for the right pieces. Sitting in 8th place in the East at the moment, The Sabres could only be one or two more players from a serious run at the top half of the East. And with a bargaining piece like Brian Campbell to use, the shopping may not be that difficult.
If there is one thing Sabres fans have faith in when it comes to Regier, its his ability to get maximum value in a trade. During his entire tenure as GM, Regier has come off as the master of the great value trade, turning our castoffs and throw-ins into big pieces. But hes had his misses as well. Here are the 5 best and worst trades of the Darcy Regier Era. Could he be adding to the list Tuesday?
March 11, 1999: Sabres trade Matthew Barnaby to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Stu Barnes.
It was the deal that began the wheels in motion for the Sabres 1999 Cup run. Barnaby was a powder keg in the locker room, and was struggling on the ice. Barnaby spent most of that season as a healthy scratch, sitting almost 18 games in a row until the late night trade that sent him to Pittsburgh. Barnes became a key piece of the Sabres from the day he arrived, although going through a 21 game scoring drought once arriving in Buffalo, finally scoring his first goal as a Sabre in Game 1 of the 1999 ECF. Barnes would spend 4 seasons with the Sabres, including serving as their captain before being traded to Dallas in March 2003. To his credit, Barnaby would regain his touch in Pittsburgh and was a key member of their upset of the New Jersey devils in the playoffs the next season.
March 23, 1999: Buffalo sends Mike Wilson to the Florida Panthers for Rhett Warrener and a 1999 5th round pick.
If the Barnes deal was the one that got the ball rolling, this was the deal that solidified the roll. With a need for a rugged defenseman glaring, Regier sent underachieving D Mike Wilson to Florida for another young D-men, Rhett Warrener. Warrener was a favorite of coach Lindy Ruff, who was an assistant in Florida before coming to Buffalo. Warrener was still a young pup when he hit Buffalo, but already had Stanley Cup expierence from the Panthers run in 1996. Warrener would pair with Jay McKee to give the Sabres a formidable shutdown pairing for almost 4 years before he was traded.
Oh, and that 5th round pick from Florida, Buffalo used on a young high school goaltender named Ryan Miller.
March 10, 2000: Buffalo send Michal Grosek to Chicago for Doug Gilmour and JP Dumont.
After just missing out on the Stanley Cup the season before, Regier continued to be active and work in his window of opportunity. With the Blackhawks in the middle of yet another rebuilding process, Regier sent the underachieving, but talented, Michal Grosek to the Blackhawks for the veteran piece they needed, Doug Gilmour, and a throw in prospect, JP Dumont.
Gilmour would become an instant leader in the room and a strong contributor to playoff runs in both his seasons in Buffalo, but may be best remembered for being burned on Darius Kasparitis' game winning goal in Game 7 of the 2001 2nd rd against the Pens. Gilmour would then leave the following off-season.
Dumont was the best part of the deal for Buffalo fans. Dumont would help lead Rochester to the Calder Cup Finals in 2000 before heading to Buffalo the next season. Dumont would be a steady 20 goal contributor and top line player before leaving for Nashville in 2006.
March 11, 2003: Buffalo sends Chris Gratton and a 2004 4th round pick to Phoenix for Daniel Briere and a 2004 3rd rd pick.
In the middle of a retooling process that saw veterans Stu Barnes and Rob Ray traded, the Sabres parlayed a former deadline pickup into a budding superstar. Gratton was struggling on the 4th line when Regier and Coyotes GM Bobby Smith made the swap at the 2003 deadline, sending Gratton to the dessert in exchange for a smaller, yet underachieving C named Daniel Briere. Gratton would play in Phoenix for 2 seasons, while Briere excelled in Buffalo, hitting 95 points last season and emerging as a captain and leader of a young and talented Buffalo team.
July 3, 2003: Buffalo send Keith Ballard to Colorado for Steve Reinprecht, then sends Reinprech and Rhett Warrener for Chris Drury and Steve Begin.
In 2003, new owner Tom Golisano took over the team and wanted to build a winner. So in June of 2003, Regier went to Golisano and told him I have the guy I want to lead this new team. Days later, the trade became official.
Buffalo sent top defensive prospect Ballard to Colorado for young C Steve Reinprecht, then parlayed him and fan favorite Rhett Warrener to the Flames for the leader he wanted, Chris Drury and Steve Begin.
Drury would become co-captain and hit the 30 goal mark twice after struggling in his 2 seasons in Calgary. Begin, however, would never play a game in Buffalo, he was claimed off waivers later in the year by Montreal.
September 29, 1997: Buffalo send Pat Lafontaine to the NY Rangers for a 1998 2nd rd pick.
Call it new GM jitters, but the Lafontaine trade may go down as one of the worst trades in franchise history. Yes, Lafontaine's future was in doubt after missing most of the previous season with another concussion. Lafontaine would play 60 games with the Rangers before suffering a career-ending concussion, but his trade was the unceremonious end of an era in Buffalo. Regier would use the 2nd rd pick, however, on enforcer Andrew Peters.
March 24, 1998: Buffalo send Jason Dawe to the Islanders for Paul Kruse and Jason Holland.
Dawe was a top scorer for the Sabres in the Ted Nolan era, but the Sabres had a glaring need to add a bit more toughness to their lunch pail attitude, so Regier sent Dawe to the Island for rugged winger Paul Kruse and Jason Holland. Dawe would struggle on the Island and later leave for Europe, while Kruse would play 2 seasons here, teaming with Rob Ray and Matt Barnaby to form a tough trio up front. Holland would see sporadic time in Buffalo before leaving for LA as a free agent.
June 24, 2001: Buffalo sends Michael Peca to the NY Islanders for Taylor Pyatt and Tim Connolly.
Draft Week in 2001 may go down as one of the darkest in Sabres history. Captain Michael Peca had spent the previous season holding out due to contract problems and begged Buffalo to trade him. After listening to several offers on Day 1 of the draft (including offers from Atlanta and Florida that would have put them into the Top 4), Regier waited until late on Day 2 of the draft to send Peca to the Islanders for 2 top prospects, Taylor Pyatt and Tim Connolly.
Peca would pay instant dividends for the Islanders, helping lead them to the playoffs until a devastating knee injury ended his season and plagued the rest of his Islander tenure. Pyatt would last 4 seasons in Buffalo, spending most of them in Lindy Ruff's doghouse for inconsistent play before being traded to Vancouver before last season. Connolly has suffered from injury problems his entire tenure in Buffalo, and has missed more then 200 of the last 300 Sabre games with concussion and other injury issues. He has great talent, but needs to remain healthy.
July 1, 2001: Buffalo sends Dominik Hasek to the Detroit Red Wings for Slava Kozlov , a 2002 1st rd pick and future considerations.
Hasek WAS the face of the Sabres, the 2 time league MVP and unquestioned best player on the team, and the main reason the Sabres were a perennial playoff team. But after the 2001 playoffs, Hasek wanted a chance to go to the next level and win that elusive Stanley Cup. Thinking Buffalo was far off from it, Hasek demanded a trade, and got his wish.
But Hsek will be known more for his public politicking of his trade, including telling Regier he would retire if he asked the Red Wings for too much. Hsek even nixed a Hsek/Sergei Federov swap.
In the end, Buffalo received a very disgruntled Slava Kozlov, who would feud with Lindy Ruff before being injured later in the year. Kozlov and the Wings 1st rd pick would later be traded to help acquire Jochen hecht from Edmonton and the pick used to select Daniel Paille.
Hasek would lead the Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2002 before retiring, then un-retiring to go to Ottawa, and then coming back to Detroit.
November 16, 2002: Buffalo send Jason Woolley to Detroit for future considerations.
Buffalo got Woolley for basically nothing in Regier's first trade as Sabres GM in 1997, then promptly traded him for nothing in 2002.