PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Patrik Berglund’s Swedish eyes are smiling after scoring six goals in the past eight games, including two against Nashville on Saturday. (The Post-Dispatch)
Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,200 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s late NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $275. Starts Monday at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.
With all the injuries the Detroit Red Wings have, they need Jimmy Howard to be their savior. (Detroit Free Press)
That Nail Yakupov is such a bad teammate, you guys. He’s so bad that coach Dallas Eakins loved seeing him come to help out Matt Hendricks when dealing with some Hurricanes in a scuffle. This sarcasm doing anything for you? (Edmonton Journal)
The Tampa Bay Lightning will be erecting a statue for former captain Dave Andreychuk. Winning a Stanley Cup gets you some pretty great perks. (Tampa Tribune)
Give it up to Team Canada women’s team goalie Shannon Szabados who made her ECHL debut. Awesome stuff. (NHL.com)
Big time kudos to the United States Paralympic hockey team that took gold at the Paralympics in Sochi. (USA Hockey)
Finally, check out the video tribute the Buffalo Sabres played for Thomas Vanek who played in his first game in Buffalo since being traded back in late October. Vanek said after the game: “My previous experience when someone else came back, they didn’t do much so I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it was very nice and very classy of them.” Take that, Darcy Regier.
Sabres fans might be able to breathe a little easier today. Thomas Vanek isn’t looking to be traded.
Vanek spoke with reporters in Buffalo and said he has no idea where the talk of him wanting to be moved came from and that he’s happy to wait and see what the season brings. WGR’s Paul Hamilton shares the story.
“I never asked to be traded so when people do mention it, I’m surprised. Did I think I was going to get traded, no because I never once went in there and said I don’t want to be here. I said, ‘Right now I’m not looking for an extension, but not saying that I wouldn’t want one down the road, but right now I just want to see where it goes’.”
All right, so maybe breathing easier won’t totally happen, but at the very least Vanek isn’t looking to get out of town right away. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and he said he wants to keep his options open. One thing he’s said is he doesn’t want to stick around for a long rebuild.
GM Darcy Regier’s options are to either extend him or deal him before the deadline before possibly losing him for nothing. That’s the same situation goalie Ryan Miller is in as well. If either player is to be moved, plenty of teams will want in on them for the right price.
Related: Vanek preparing for season in Buffalo, but admits situation not ‘best-case scenario’
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.