By John Vogl
Thomas Vanek knows the Sabres are in position for a rebuild. He also knows he might not be part of it.
General Manager Darcy Regier has talked during the past two days of looking toward the future, which might leave the team's leading scorer as a trade target before Wednesday's deadline.
"Every year you think about that, but obviously this year probably more than any other year because of the position we’re in and one year left on my contract," Vanek, who will miss tonight's game against Boston with an upper-body injury, said in First Niagara Center. "Obviously, you think about it, but at the same time it’s part of the business. If it happens, it happens, and we’ll move on.
"You never like to. I’ve raised my family here. I enjoy where I’m at, but I understand the situation. I’m not sure. I haven’t talked to anyone about what their plan is. Again, it’s something you can’t control. Again, if it happens, you move on and you help whatever team you move on to. If you stay here, I’ll do the same things I’ve been doing for the last eight years."
Vanek, captain Jason Pominville and goaltender Ryan Miller have contracts that expire after next season, and Regier acknowledged it would be difficult to re-sign them all.
"I would definitely like to stay," Vanek said. "I like this area. I’m comfortable where I’m at, but I would like to know what the direction is. The next four days I can’t control, then after that we’ll see what Darcy and [owner] Terry [Pegula] and them have to stay.
"I’m sure nobody likes to call their team a rebuilding team, but if that’s the phase, if it’s one year that’s OK, but if it’s a two-, three-year plan again, you would probably look the other direction."
The Sabres have already had one transition period under Vanek, who went to the Eastern Conference finals in his first two seasons. Going through another would be difficult.
"To me, there’s different types of rebuild," Vanek said. "There’s rebuilds like the Penguins and the Oilers did, consistently draft in the top five, or you go and get good players through trades, free agency and rebuild your team quicker in the summer.
"Rebuild is not a bad word, it’s just which direction you choose to go."
Vanek was one of only three Sabres to take the ice this morning following a team meeting. John Scott skated and will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch. Miller also took the ice, but interim coach Ron Rolston would not commit to using goaltender.
"I don’t know," Rolston said. "We’ll see."
Jhonas Enroth played well Saturday night against Washington, continuing his run of solid games. To hear Rolston praise Enroth's confidence, click the audio file below.
taggedRyan Miller | Thomas Vanek