Sabres could still have Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek in fold when training camp opens
BUFFALO – With each passing day, general manager Darcy Regier acknowledged, it becomes more likely starting goalie Ryan Miller and slick winger Thomas Vanek will still be with the Sabres when training camp starts in September.
Regier has said both stars, whose contracts expire after next season, could be dealt from the rebuilding Sabres. He said he’s had some “discussions regarding both those players” with other teams.
“The nature of this business as you move through July, lineups get more and more settled, there’s less movement,” Regier said Friday inside the First Niagara Center during the second intermission of the team’s annual prospect scrimmage. “Then training camp starts and things begin to change again at that point.”
Regier said he last spoke to the players’ agents around the draft. He hasn’t had any contract extensions talks.
“Talking to my counterparts around the league, that’s not unusual right now,” Regier said about the extensions. “For whatever reason, there’s not a lot of activity on players that are slated to become unrestricted in ’14, and there have not been a lot of contracts signed with those players now. I don’t know whether that will change in the next month or six weeks.”
Regier doesn’t believe the stars’ presences would be a distraction.
“I think that’s something we’re aware of and would deal with, and I think it would dissipate or disappear,” he said.
More from Regier:
– After the Sabres drafted Rasmus Ristolainen last month, amateur scouting director Kevin Devine said the 18-year-old defenseman could play in Rochester if he doesn’t make the big club.
On Wednesday, though, Ristolainen said he had a European contract and didn’t think he could play in the minors.
Regier said Friday playing arrangements would be negotiated in Ristolainen’s NHL contract. Hours later, the Sabres signed the eighth overall pick to a three-year, entry-level deal.
No details about were given. Regier said the Sabres would prefer to have the Finn develop close to Buffalo.
– Regier said Henrik Tallinder’s reacquisition from New Jersey on Sunday “was an opportunity for us to bring back a defenseman that we were very familiar with.”
“He was someone who was obviously very good defensively, can move the puck and is experienced,” he said. “We think knowing what we know about him he’ll fit in very well with our corps and the young guys coming.”
The 34-year-old Tallinder, who teamed with struggling defenseman Tyler Myers all of 2009-10, his last season here, wasn’t brought back simply for Myers’ benefit.
“We didn’t go into this reacquiring ‘Hank,’ as he’s known, specifically for Tyler, but I think it can and could help,” Regier said.
– Regier said the Sabres settled on buying out winger Nathan Gerbe just a couple of days before he was waived last Wednesday.
“In speaking with his agent over the course of the season, he was concerned about the opportunity he was getting here,” he said. “We looked at the opportunity we were going to be able to provide him and didn’t think it was going to be suitable for him.
“We actually looked at the possibility of sending him to the minors just because of the number of forwards we had, and if we had done that, I don’t think it would have been beneficial for him or for us as an organization.”
After getting scratched twice in March, Gerbe, who scored five goals in 42 games last season, said he couldn’t do much with the limited ice time he was receiving. As he struggled for two seasons, newcomers like Brian Flynn and Corey Tropp established themselves.
Gerbe, an elite college and AHL scorer, has only 29 NHL scores in 188 contests. Sixteen came in 2010-11.
“He’s a goal scorer,” Regier said. “Hopefully, he regains that touch. He certainly had it in the American League and had it briefly in the National Hockey League.”
– The Sabres, who’ve only signed AHL players so far, are pursuing NHL free agents “just lightly right now,” Regier said.
“We’ve got a lot of forwards,” he said. “We’ve got decisions to make positionally and otherwise. We’ve dabbled in it, but not in any real depth.”
When the market opened last Friday, the Sabres pursued talent “just a little heavier” than they are now, Regier said.
Since a big opening day in which teams spent more than $400 million on players, the market has stalled. Regier said the salary cap, which is coming down to $64.3 million, “is a real big part of it.”
“Any discussions I have now involve taking back money, moving money,” he said. “Money plays a very big role, and I think you can look at clubs you wouldn’t expect to be up and around $60 million-plus, and they’re there.”
– Regier said Chadd Cassidy, who took over Rochester on an interim basis when the Sabres promoted Ron Rolston on Feb. 20, is the Americans’ new permanent coach.
What about Cassidy, who went 16-11-1 as coach, impressed Regier?
“The job he did on such short notice,” he said. “When I spoke with him, (I noticed) his poise, his composure, steadiness, his ability to relate to the players, communicate with the players and his understanding of the game. I talked to some of the older players like Matt Ellis. Matt Ellis had only good things to say about him and how he handled the situation.”
Former Sabres center and Amerks center Chris Taylor will be Cassidy’s top assistant. The Sabres will also hire another assistant.
– Regier believes the 2013-14 NHL schedule will be released next week.