There are 13 years of history when it comes to Darcy Regier, the Sabres and the trade deadline. A look back suggests at least one player who was part of the organization Sunday will not be with the team tonight.
The NHL trade deadline hits at 3 this afternoon, and it would be a huge surprise if Buffalo isn't involved in the transactions. Regier has made a move at or near the deadline every season since taking over as general manager. In 10 of those 13 deadlines, at least one player has said goodbye to the Blue and Gold.
"There's still usually moves that are made, one or two players that go in a different direction, but that's part of the business," Sabres captain Jason Pominville said Sunday. "We've got to focus on keeping it going and make a push [toward the playoffs]. We still believe."
A quiet Sunday league-wide is expected to become a manic Monday as teams load up or begin their rebuild. The Sabres' brass -- Regier, owner Terry Pegula, team President Ted Black and coach Lindy Ruff -- was said to be hunkered down in First Niagara Center on the eve of the swap meet.
Regier did not accept an interview request. He said over the weekend, however, he is willing to take a temporary hit to his 12th-place club if it means improving in the future. Translation: A roster player could leave while a draft pick or prospect comes back.
"The focus for us has to be how even in its finest form this team can be better going forward," Regier said Friday on his regularly scheduled appearance on WGR-AM. "If it means that we have to take a little bit of a step back in the short term to do that, then I would argue it's worth it."
The Sabres have two players who are prime candidates to depart: centers Paul Gaustad and Brad Boyes. Both are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer.
Gaustad skipped a team bowling fundraiser Sunday after getting injured during a fight with the Rangers' Brandon Prust on Saturday. A source said Gaustad hurt his shoulder. He finished the game, so it's unlikely the ailment would hamper his trade value.
Boyes, meanwhile, headed toward the deadline as calm as could be.
"I'm fine. Been there, done it," he said between back-to-back spares at Transit Lanes. "I'm not nervous or anything. In years past I've been that way, but now I'm feeling just whatever happens will happen.
"If I'm still a Sabre I'm going to go and play. If I'm not I'll play somewhere else. My whole mind-set is I'm going into practice [today] as part of the team."
Pominville's approach to the deadline mirrored Boyes' outlook.
"It's out of our control now," Pominville said. "It's tough, but who knows what's going to happen? The group might still be together, or it might not. It's part of what we do. It's part of what other teams do.
"We've done our part to do the best we can to gain some ground and get back on track. The team or the people in place will do what they think is best for the team and the organization."
In the past, Regier's thought process included making moves. He brought in Boyes last year for a second-round pick in the only transaction. It was the first time since 2002 the GM didn't ship out a player. The only other season a player didn't leave town under Regier's watch was 2001.
If the Sabres lose a player without getting one back, they figure they can still try to push toward the playoffs. They have been missing players due to injury most of the season, so they are confident any reserve or minor-leaguer can fill the role of the departed.
"If it's something where they shake things up and give guys different opportunities, the thing is guys have been in those opportunities before," Boyes said. "The depth guys have been in big situations at big times, power play and all that, so we've got guys that have played before. So as far as that part, I think it won't be that big of a change."
Regier's recent deadline history has been spotty. Boyes, who has missed the past two games with a left wrist injury but hopes to return Wednesday in Anaheim, has three goals. In 2010, the acquisition of Raffi Torres was a failure, but the GM got two draft picks for free agent-to-be Clarke MacArthur. Regier gave up a second-round pick to get Dominic Moore in 2009, but he recouped the selection the same day by dealing Ales Kotalik.
The last time the Sabres were this far out of a playoff spot at the deadline was 2008. Regier was dealing from an identical situation -- 12th place, six points behind eighth -- and had one of the prime prizes on the market. He sent All-Star Brian Campbell and a seventh-round pick to San Jose for Steve Bernier and a first-round pick. Bernier played just 17 games for Buffalo, while Tyler Ennis (the pick) scored 20 goals last season but has six goals and 12 points in 28 games this year.
History says a transaction will occur today that can be evaluated at future deadlines.
"It's an interesting day for the players and the fans and the organizations because they make the moves that they want to make," Pominville said. "It's a big day for everyone, an exciting day."