There’s an interesting dynamic at play with Buffalo captain Brian Gionta.
Gionta, who turned 38 last week, is in the midst of a quality campaign. With 10 goals through 46 games, he’s flirting with 20 for the season — a mark he hasn’t hit since the ’10-11 campaign in Montreal.
He’s also on pace for 39 points, which would be his high since signing with the Sabres three years ago.
For a playoff team, this kind of production and veteran presence is invaluable. More to the point, a playoff team wouldn’t part with it.
But the Sabres are right on that playoff bubble — five points back of Boston for third in the Atlantic, and five back of Philly for the final wild card — and, should they fall out of contention, the Gionta conversation becomes quite different.
At that point, he’d be a pending UFA (last of a three-year, $12.75 million deal with a $4.25M cap hit) armed with a limited no-trade clause, as opposed to the full NTC he had in years one and two.
Gionta would also figure to be a fairly intriguing addition at the deadline. In addition to his experience and leadership qualities, he’s appeared in over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, winning it all with New Jersey in 2003.
He knows it might be time to move on. But he also knows he wants to stay.
“That’s out of your control,” Gionta said of trade talks, per the Buffalo News. “The only thing you can control is on the ice, and I’ve had it before throughout my career where your contract’s up.
“I want to continue what’s here. I want to continue the job I thought I’d be a part of.”
The Gionta situation in Buffalo will certainly be one to watch as we get closer to the Mar. 1 deadline.