Winds of uncertainty are blowing through Buffalo right now, and have hit two of the team’s biggest stars.
Leading scorer Thomas Vanek and starting netminder Ryan Miller — two of the club’s longest-tenured players — say they need to speak with GM Darcy Regier to figure out what the plan is moving forward.
In the past six weeks, Regier fired longtime head coach Lindy Ruff and traded away T.J. Brennan, Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold and captain Jason Pominville.
So, what’s next?
“You just regroup and figure out what the plan is moving forward, if you’re part of it or not,” Miller told the Buffalo News. “It’s something I haven’t had a chance to talk to [Regier] about and certainly something I can’t speculate on because I’ve never known what Darcy’s going to do.”
Vanek sounded equally confused as to whether he’ll be a Sabre after this year.
“I haven’t talked to them about anything,” he explained. “It’s hard to say yes or no because no one has let me know what direction this is heading.
“Again, we’ll finish the year out and I’m sure at least I would expect them to let me know what the future is with myself.”
Few teams are more in flux than Buffalo.
The Sabres are playing under an interim head coach — Ron Rolston has no guarantees beyond this season — and are heading into an offseason filled with tough decisions.
The club’s pending UFAs aren’t a big deal (Jochen Hecht, John Scott, Adam Pardy, Alex Sulzer) but the restricted free agents are key.
New deals are needed for Cody Hodgson, Luke Adam and goalie Matt Hackett, acquired in the Pominville trade and believed to be Miller’s possible heir apparent.
There’s also the issue of the draft.
Buffalo’s armed to the teeth with picks — they’ll have two first- and two second-rounders — and could make a push for one of the Big Three: WHL Portland defenseman Seth Jones or one of the two QMHJL Halifax stars, Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin.
If that happens, the youth movement will certainly be in effect.
Which really makes you wonder what’ll happen with Vanek, who turns 30 next year, and Miller, who’s 33 in July.