With last weekend's draft in the rear view mirror, the Buffalo Sabres are now turning their attention to the start of NHL free agency on Friday. Meanwhile, the futures of goalie Ryan Miller and forward Thomas Vanek are still up in the air.
Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier says with a new youth movement underway at First Niagara Center, he will be looking for players who can complement the team's current roster.
"The focus is going to be on supporting this younger core group. Certainly you want good players, but you want players that are committed to being professionals, being examples, [and] being contributors. Those are the most important characteristics and the most important things that we can do organizationally to make sure that we progress in the direction that we need to go," Regier says.
One player the team has publicly said it is interested in bringing back is Daniel Briere, who spent four seasons in Buffalo before leaving for Philadelphia in 2007.
Still unresolved are the futures of star players Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, who are both entering the final year of their contracts. Regier says the team is continuing to explore trade possibilities.
"Right now, they're members of our hockey club and they're obviously very good players in the National Hockey League. But, as I've stated before, it's incumbent upon me to have a sense of what the marketplace is or re-sign them versus allowing them to become unrestricted and just have very good assets walk out the door," Regier said, speaking at a press conference Tuesday at First Niagara Center.
The two players will make more than $13 million combined next season and can become unrestricted free agents this time next year. Regier says finding the right trading partner has been difficult.
"The fact that the goalie market has stabilized a little bit, a number of teams have signed their goalies, will change things. So how it goes, I'm not sure. But there are a number of teams that we'll speak to regarding not just the goaltender position, but other positions, as well," Regier says.
The GM says he has spoken with both players' agents in recent days and he says various options, including negotiations, are being considered.
Also Tuesday, the Sabres announced they have hired Joe Sacco to be an assistant to head coach Ron Rolston.
Aacco spent four seasons as the Colorado Avalanche coach before being fired in April after the team missed the playoffs for a third straight year. He finished with a 130-134-40 record and was an NHL coach of the year finalist in 2010.
Rolston, who was hired as the team's full-time coach in May, fired former assistants James Patrick and Kevyn Adams. Former Sabre Teppo Numminen remains on the staff.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.