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Flames trade Regehr, Kotalik, out of "salary-cap jail"

by Shawn P. Roarke /
ST. PAUL – Calgary GM Jay Feaster did not enter this week looking to trade veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr.

The Buffalo Sabres, however, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. And, after some wooing from both sides, the deal finally got done early Saturday morning, shortly after the conclusion of Friday’s first-round of the draft.

The final deal, which took several days to come together, saw Regehr, veteran forward Ales Kotalik and a second-round pick in 2012 go to Buffalo for defenseman Chris Butler and forward Paul Byron.

"It's not a case where we were looking to unload Robyn," Feaster said during Saturday’s second round of the 2011 Entry Draft. "Robyn has been a tremendous hockey player for our club and has been there for a very long time. It's difficult when you move a guy that is a core player."

But, the implications of the deal for Calgary were so significant for Feaster that he felt he had to ask the 31-year-old to trade his no-movement clause, a request that did not go over well with the player at first.

"It clearly took him by surprise on Wednesday when I asked him to waive to go to Buffalo," Feaster said. "He had been hoping there might be other options. As I said to him, the Buffalo deal from our perspective was so significant and we liked it so much that there weren't other offers that came close to that offer.

"He had initially advised me on Friday that he was not going to waive. Last night , at the draft, his agent informed me that (Robyn) and his his wife had talked about it some more.

Obviously, Buffalo put on a push. Buffalo made sure that he understood how much they wanted him.

Buffalo GM Darcy Regier said the courtship was a full-court press that went all the way to the office of new owner Terry Pegula.

"Terry was influential in convincing him it was a good fit for him, the right place for him," Regier said Saturday morning. "I spoke with him; Lindy spent a lot of time with him as well. As Robin stated, it was never a position where he did not want to come to Buffalo. I think it was more a situation where he was dealing with Calgary and, in lieu of his no-trade, no-movement clause, having some say in the process."

Buffalo wanted Regehr to add some snarl and veteran leadership to a young defense corps that was exposed in a first-round playoff loss to Philadelphia.

"It's not just veteran leadership, it is size and experience," Regier said. "We added size as well. With the history he has and the age he is at, he has years ahead to play. I think he can really do a lot for our younger defensemen."

"We have been in salary-cap jail for some time. This gives us the opportunity to have some room and get a fresh start and, at the same time, to get younger and bring in two younger players."
-- Calgary GM Jay Feaster

Regier was also willing to take on veteran Ales Kotalik, a former Sabre, in the deal. Kotalik, who played in Buffalo from 2001 to 2009, spent much of last season in the American Hockey League after managing just 4 goals and 6 points in 26 games with the Flames.

Despite his recent struggles, Kotalik will be giving every chance to make the Sabres this fall. He will not have his contract bought out, according to Regier.

"(Kotalik) can play in the National Hockey League and he played an important role for us and we expect him to come into camp and compete for a position," the GM said.

While Feaster thinks both Butler and Byron are close to being full-time players, he likes the deal for the financial flexibility it gave him. In fact, he signed top forward Alex Tanguay to a five-year deal just minutes after finalizing the Regehr transaction.

"We have been in salary-cap jail for some time," Feaster said. "This gives us the opportunity to have some room and get a fresh start and, at the same time, to get younger and bring in two younger players. We think both guys are going to play. Certainly, we think Chris Butler is going to play for us now and we think that Byron is knocking on the door."

Not only did the Flames sign Tanguay, but Feaster said he still has some flexibility under the cap to address even more needs as July 1 and the start of free agency looms on the horizon.

"For the first time in a long time, we have options now as we go into July 1," Feaster said. "We have the ability and we have the free cap space to address other needs."
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