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.
Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Buffalo Sabres.
Things haven’t exactly gone how owner Terry Pegula hoped they would when he bought the team. Instead of challenging for and winning a Stanley Cup, the team has missed the playoffs the last two seasons.
Now the team enters a season where they’re still not sure how long they’ll have Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek to kick around. Both guys are unrestricted free agents after the season and will have trade rumors floating around them all year. Who said Buffalo was a boring place?
Instead of diving head-first into the free agent pile, GM Darcy Regier instead bought out forward Nathan Gerbe (who signed with Carolina afterward). One deal Regier did make was with New Jersey to bring back Henrik Tallinder to try and recapture the chemistry he had with Tyler Myers. Considering how many more years and dollars they’ve got committed to him, it’s not the worst move to make.
In the NHL Draft they went with big Finnish defender Rasmus Ristolainen who may end up challenging for a job in the NHL right away. Buffalo’s blue line is a crowded house, but they love Ristolainen’s style.
All eyes will stay on Miller and Vanek, however. Buffalo better hope they show something in the new Atlantic Division to make both guys think about staying in Western New York.
Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series
Sabres GM Darcy Regier could have an anxious summer next year with both Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek being unrestricted free agents. That also means this summer could be busy with trade talk, but that’s apparently not the case.
Regier spoke with media in Buffalo to update on how things are going. As Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News shares, all is quiet when it comes to potentially dealing two of their cornerstone players.
“Talking to my counterparts around the league, that’s not unusual right now,” he said. “For whatever reason, there’s not a lot of activity on players that are going to become unrestricted in ’14.”
One reason there may not be a lot of chatter is due to the salary cap hits on both players.
Miller comes with a $6.25 million hit while Vanek’s is just north of $7 million. The other reason could be that the asking price to obtain either player is too high for teams to jump in on.
If Buffalo is out of the playoff hunt this season, the cost to obtain them at the deadline may not be quite so high. Buyer beware when dealing with Regier, however, as he’s proven to be excellent at getting a great return then. Just ask Nashville and Minnesota about that.
Henrik Tallinder is proving you can go home again.
The Buffalo Sabres acquired Tallinder in a straight swap with the New Jersey Devils in exchange for minor league forward Riley Boychuk.
Tallinder is often credited for helping Tyler Myers break out as a top-flight defenseman. Ever since he’s been out of Buffalo, however, things haven’t gone as smoothly for Myers.
Sabres GM Darcy Regier is happy to have him back in the fold.
“We are excited to have Henrik back in the mix on our blue line,” said Regier. “His experience will be invaluable not only in adding more stability to our back end, but also in the development of some of our younger defensemen.”
Tallinder joins a relatively crowded house on defense in Buffalo, albeit a mostly inexperienced one.
For the Devils, this deal works as a major salary dump as Tallinder is owed $3.5 million this season and comes with a cap hit of $3.375 million. New Jersey was already pushing the upper limit of the cap but now get a little breathing room.
Mikhail Grigorenko’s rookie season in Buffalo wasn’t exactly one to write home about.
While he came in with big expectations, he found himself buried on the Sabres’ lines and eventually sent back to junior hockey. Next year, things won’t be like that.
GM Darcy Regier told reporters today that Grigorenko will stay with the Sabres all season and will not be sent back to junior hockey. He is ineligible to play in the AHL as he’s 19 years-old.
Last season, Grigorenko had a goal and four assists in 25 games. That’s not impressive at all, but even less so was his average ice time of 10:14 per game. That kind of inaction is no way to properly develop a young player. Coach Ron Rolston will have to make sure to give him the proper linemates (not John Scott for instance) and ice time to help him better use his offensive abilities.