BUFFALO, N.Y. - Backed by an enthusiastic new owner with deep pockets, Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier is looking forward to the start of the NHL's free agency period.

Rather than standing on the sideline as a passive observer as Regier's done in previous summers, this time he expects to be in the thick of the bidding.

Calling it "both different and exciting," Regier is confident the Sabres will have the chance to fill needs at forward and defence once free agency opens Friday.

The change in philosophy is the result of Terry Pegula, the Pennsylvania billionaire who purchased the team in February.

The Sabres have already begun rebuilding after acquiring veteran defenceman Robyn Regehr in a trade with Calgary last weekend.