BUFFALO — The conversations, the first overtures into acquiring Steve Ott, the gritty Dallas forward the Sabres coveted, began last season. General manager Darcy Regier, who held struggling center Derek Roy as a key chip, had been keeping a dialogue with counterpart Joe Nieuwendyk for months.
At times, Regier said he didn’t want to pull the trigger. Other times, Nieuwendyk wasn’t willing.
“Either the timing wasn’t right or the people weren’t right,” Regier said Monday inside the First Niagara Center.
However, on Monday, despite a stalled NHL trade market, both sides finally agreed to a deal.
The Sabres sent the underachieving Roy, once the Sabres’ top offensive threat, to the Stars for Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy.
“I’ve never been traded before,” said Roy, who compiled 161 goals and 427 points in 549 games since 2003-04. “It’s weird. It’s emotional. I’ve been playing here my whole career, so it’s a very emotional day for me.”
With Ott, who has 85 goals and 1,170 penalty minutes in 566 NHL games, and 6-foot-8 tough guy John Scott, who was signed Sunday, the Sabres got a whole lot tougher in about 20 hours.
The Sabres, a team light on physicality in recent seasons, have been targeting toughness this summer, Regier said. Ott and Scott “move the needle over to a grittier, more physical hockey club.”
“We needed to move the balance of skill versus the physical nature of our game, being a tougher team to play against,” he said. “Steve can play as a compliment to the higher-skilled guys and contribute in a lot of different ways. I think he’ll be very valuable for us.”
Ott, who’s so close with Sabres defenseman Mike Weber he calls him a brother, believes his new team has “the right pieces, a lot of great pieces of being a phenomenal team.”