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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres
On Day One of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Sabres used their 16th overall pick to acquire the young forward they wanted in Joel Armia.  On Saturday, they wasted no time making an even bigger splash when it was announced they had acquired from Calgary Robyn Regehr, a durable, rugged defenseman who instantly improves Buffalo’s back end.

Robyn Regher (Photo: Getty Images)
In addition to Regehr, Buffalo also re-acquired former Sabre Ales Kotalik and gained a second round pick in the 2012 draft in exchange for defenseman Chris Butler and forward Paul Byron.  In order for the deal to be completed, Regehr elected to waive the no-trade/no-move clause in his contract.

“We’re excited. It took a little longer than we were hoping, but it’s done and it’s a real positive for us,” said Regier.  “Terry (Pegula) was influential in convincing him that it was a good fit for him and the right place for him.  I spoke with him; Lindy (Ruff) spent a lot of time with him as well. 

“As Robyn stated, it was never a position where he did not want to come to Buffalo.  I think it was more of a situation in which he was dealing with Calgary, in lieu of his no-move/no-trade (clause), having some say in the process and so he had to get that type of comfort level.”

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Regehr is coming off back-to-back seasons in which he has recorded 2 goals, 15 assists and a +2 rating.  While he has the ability to chip in offensively, his most valuable asset is his ability to lock down the defensive zone.

Regier noted that Regehr moves well for a player of his size and adds a great dose of experience to the Sabres’ blue-line.

“Not just veteran leadership, but the added size as well. With the history that he has and the age he’s at, with years ahead to play, I think he can really do a lot for our younger defensemen,” Regier said.  “We think that he can help and do a lot for someone like Tyler Myers. That combination of the youth and experience, that blend will do well for us.”     

The 11-year NHL veteran has spent his entire career with the Flames, skating in 826 games and recording 163 points (29 goals, 134 assists) and 802 penalty minutes.  He has also appeared in 41 postseason games and helped Calgary come within one game of winning the Stanley Cup back in 2004.

Robyn Regehr
One of Regehr’s fellow blue-liners on that Flames team that nearly won it all was current Sabre Jordan Leopold.  Leopold, along with former Flame and Sabre Rhett Warrener, were among the people with whom Regehr consulted before deciding to accept the trade, according to Regier.

Shortly after the trade was announced, Regier said Terry and Kim Pegula, along with Ruff, boarded a flight in order to go meet with Regehr and welcome him to the organization.

“Terry didn’t hedge his bet at all when he bought the team,” Regier said.  “He said our goal is to win multiple Stanley Cups.  He didn’t say we’re going to try our hardest, he said we’re going to win multiple Stanley Cups. He has a philosophy on how that’s done based on what he did with his oil company, and this is just an indication.  I have not been a part of an ownership that takes that type of genuine interest in the players and the relationships with them.”

Regehr has served as an alternate captain and played more games in a Flames uniform than any other defenseman, passing Al MacInnis last season.  He is durable, too, having missed only 15 regular season games over the last five seasons

Originally drafted by Colorado in the first round (19th overall) of the 1998 Entry Draft, Regehr was dealt to Calgary the following winter while he was wrapping up his junior career with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers.  He played only five games with Calgary’s AHL affiliate at the start of the 1999-00 season before being called up in late October to the Flames, where he would remain for the next 11 seasons.

Regehr has represented Canada on numerous occasions, including the 2006 Olympics as well as the 1999 and 2000 World Junior Championships.

Ales Kotalik
The 32-year-old Kotalik was drafted by the Sabres in 1998 and played parts of seven seasons for Buffalo from 2001 to 2009 before being dealt to Edmonton at the ’09 trade deadline.  He appeared in 426 games with Buffalo, recording 114 goals (39 on the power play) and 126 assists for 240 points.  He had a career year in 2005-06, finishing with 25-37-62 while playing in all 82 games.

Last season, he split time between Calgary and Abbotsford of the American Hockey League, but Regier believes he can still perform at the NHL level.

“Al can play in the National Hockey League,” Regier said.  “He played an important role for us and we expect him to come into camp and compete for a position.”
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