Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek have been Sabres their entire career and both players are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Both players have been stars in Buffalo but now head into this season with a lot of uncertainty.
Buffalo appears ready to move ahead in goal with Jhonas Enroth and Matt Hackett (acquired in the Jason Pominville trade). With Miller on the brink of free agency, some thought GM Darcy Regier would deal Miller to a team in need of a starting goalie.
Instead, Regier played it close to the vest and held onto Miller, making the situation in goal a bit crowded.
Enroth showed during World Championships in May he may be ready to see more starts and even challenge for the starting job. With Hackett waiting in the wings, it would seem Miller’s future in Buffalo isn’t long. That doesn’t play out well to make a solid trade.
Vanek, meanwhile, is a player the Sabres love. If he had a long-term deal he’d be a candidate to be the new team captain. Instead, his current deal and fat salary cap hit made him nearly impossible to deal this summer and puts him in a position he’s not exactly comfortable with.
Regier and Pegula might want to extend Vanek, but he’d likely be the top free agent available this summer and could fetch a huge return at the trade deadline. For a team that’s hoping to win their first Stanley Cup, this isn’t the kind of talk that comes off as encouraging.
It might take the Sabres pushing for a playoff spot in the new Atlantic Division to keep Vanek interested in staying but that could also hurt their ability to deal Miller during the season if need be. Being between a rock and a hard place like this isn’t enviable to anyone, least of all Darcy Regier.
The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.
“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.
“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”
While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.
“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”
Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?
News and notes from around the crease…
Jones goes for San Jose
Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.
Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.
For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.
Markstrom out for Vancouver
Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.
Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.
For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.
Habs at Leafs: Carey Price vs. Jonathan Bernier
Rangers at ‘Hawks: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Corey Crawford