Final year for Vanek, Miller?
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Goalie Ryan Miller and forward Thomas Vanek are both taking a business-as-usual approach to their uncertain futures with the Sabres.
Miller, a former Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s top goaltender, and Vanek, Buffalo’s (only) offensive threat, reported for physicals Wednesday after an offseason filled with trade speculation.
Both players are in the final year of their contracts and are not currently negotiating extensions with the Sabres.
That is not good news if you are a Sabres fan.
A quick glance across the team leaders section on the web site shows the names of the 5 players who lead the team in each of the different categories.
They are: Thomas Vanek (G), Thomas Vanek (A), Thomas Vanek (PTS), Steve Ott, and some goaltender nobody knows who he is.
The reason that Steve Ott is on there is because he leads in the Penalty Minutes category.
HELLO, DARCY REIGER
If I am the GM, I am trying everything in my power to re-acquire Vanek for however long Vanek wants to be part of this sinking ship of a hockey team.
You have to admire the way Miller is going about this, rather than sitting at home and sulking about this-or-that, he is actually living up to the expectations of his contract (are you hearing this Mr. Ilya Kovalchuk???)
Miller was apparently all set to leave the State, as he even sold his Buffalo home, thinking his time in town was done.
How wrong he seems to have been in thinking that. Miller sounds like a philosopher
“If you play long enough, you’re going to have this type of discussion surround you at some point,” Miller said. “I have to be professional enough just to do the job. I’m able to do a job in a city I’m familiar with, a city I’m very much at home. I like to be in Buffalo. I like the people.
“So this isn’t a bad situation.”
Miller acknowledged at the end of last season that he may no longer fit into the Sabres’ long-term plans.
Following last season’s home finale, Miller skated a lap around the ice, waving to fans. He also sold his home over the summer and is now renting.
“It does look like, `OK, I’m out of here,” Miller said. “People are going to believe it or they’re not going to believe it. I thought it was a smart business decision to have it on the market in the last year of my deal so I didn’t at least get low-balled.
“I had to laugh at myself and say, `this is not going to be looking good to the people of Buffalo.’ I’m not racing out of town. It was just honestly a business decision.”
With this being the season which falls within the Winter Olympics, hopefully Miller and the Sabres will make their respective country teams.
On the list of team statistics, you have Cody Hodgson, who placed second to Vanek in scoring with 34 points, you have Tyler Ennis and Jason Pominville who are 3-4 on the list (31pts/25 pts).
After those guys, there isn’t much left on this roster.
GM Darcy Regier did shore up his roster on another front later in the day, re-signing restricted free agent Cody Hodgson to a multi-year contract. Hodgson is Buffalo’s top-line center, who finished last season second on the team with 15 goals and 34 points in 48 games.
Vanek has previously said he is not interested in enduring a lengthy rebuilding process and will take this season to assess. On Wednesday, he was more political.
“I’m not ready to re-sign, and to be honest, I’m not sure if they are ready to re-sign,” Vanek said. “If I would have got traded, I wouldn’t have been shocked.”
Regier said the NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement has made players with expiring contracts reluctant to sign extensions.
“That’s the nature of the new NHL,” Regier said. “The expectation from the players side is that the cap is going to go up. To the extent that the cap goes up, it may be beneficial for them to wait for the unrestricted market.”
Miller, who has played 500 games with the Sabres, left the door open to re-signing long-term.
MILLER COULD RETURN
“You start to see a situation here where you can build something good, something that’s going to last,” Miller said. “That’s what I want to be a part of, whether this is the last season I can make a difference or it’s going to continue forward. I just want to make sure that I’m a positive influence on this team moving forward and that Buffalo has a lot of success or a foundation to build success on in the future, because I do care about this area and the people. I do believe they deserve to be cheering for a team deep into June.