Maine Hockey Journal

Regier methodically building a winner

Portland, ME – Today as training camps get underway across the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres have opened their camp at HSBC Arena in upstate NY with their roster and their AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates already beginning to take shape.

While the main camp is working on building this year’s version of the Buffalo Sabres, the Pirates are also slowly coming together, but will have to wait until they open camp on Sept. 24 to see what they fully have for talent.

Photo by Southern Maine Digital Imaging

Photo by Southern Maine Digital Imaging

Several players who could potentially call Portland home have been skating for over a week now as rookies needed to report last Tuesday.

The Sabres have high expectations for Tyler Ennis – Buffalo’s first round pick in 2008 – after he’s done nothing, but impress Sabres’ General Manager Darcy Regier to date. He’s still skating without a contract, but Regier isn’t too concerned that will be an issue.

“My expectations are that we will get him to Portland,” Regier said. “He’s a player that fans will love to watch, very skilled and very agile, and someone who can make plays in very tight confines. He’s been good (in camp) and fans will enjoy.”

It will be a drastically different roster for the Pirates, compared to last year’s team. Gone are Marek Zagrapan, Tyler Bouck, Colin Murphy, Colin Fretter and Mathieu Darche, all who played a vital role on the Pirates, but the Sabres believe they’ve filled those holes with signings such as Phillip Gogulla, Paul Byron and veterans Joe DiPenta, Cody McCormick and Jeff Cowan. The Sabres have also inked Brad Larsen to an AHL contract and with those signings believe the Pirates will have a more grit on the roster, something that was missing from last year’s team.

Still missing, however, is that full-blown heavyweight, but Trevor Gillis and Mike Hoffman could provide that service for the Pirates pending how things play out in Buffalo over the next week or so.

“It’s something that (Pirates’ head coach) Kevin (Dineen) and I have talked about and we’re keeping those options open,” said Regier. “I think it will be depending on what happens with the existing players in (Buffalo’s) camp.”

“We’ll assess if we think we need to add something.”

One player the Sabres would like to see in camp is Mark Mancari, but a contract dispute has kept him out of the start of training camp. Mancari would like to move on to another team with the chance of making the NHL, and Regier has tried to grant his wish with little success. Now, the focus turns to getting him in camp.

“The ball is in (Mancari’s) court,” said Regier. “Obviously, we retain his rights and his European options may be limited, I know he had them a while back. We have an offer out to him and we’re still hopeful that we’ll get him in camp. I spoke to him just prior to camp and we’re still waiting on him.”

Regier also wasn’t shy on the status of Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy, who are just two of 15 forwards fighting for 12 spots. If they earn a spot on the roster, the Sabres will make room for them by either the waiver wire, or trades.

“They been good, both of them,” said Regier. “They’ll get exhibition games, and we’ll have input, from myself, the coaching staff and the organization will have a chance to evaluate them in those games and we’ll have to see where it goes from there.

“If they’re playing at that level, past history suggests we’ll find a way to find spots for them – if they’re ready to play.”

Regier also suggested that he may not be done making moves regardless of Gerbe or Kennedy.

“We still have a little bit of flexibility and we’re evaluating all the time,” he said. “We’re still looking around and there are a lot of players in camps on tryouts and depending on what happens with Mancari and (Drew Stafford), we have some flexibility so I wouldn’t say we are necessarily done.”

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