Maine Hockey Journal

Sabres GM touches on variety of topics

It was a busy day for the Buffalo Sabres on the free agent market.

Nothing of note in regards to a signing for the Pirates as of yet, but Sabres GM Darcy Regier said today they are still proactive on the market for veterans who can play with Portland, but not committed to necessarily bringing back any of the veterans who played with the Pirates last season.

“We will sign veterans, whether or not it’s the same guys is still too early to tell.”

Regier touched on numerous issues during his encounter with the media including the signings of Rob Niedermayer and goaltender Patrick Lalime.

Both Niedermayer and Lalime were signed to one-year deals.

Lalime’s deal will have an impact on the Pirates because Jhonas Enroth will likely start the year in Portland now.

There was some discussion by the Sabres to bring Enroth up this season as the back-up to Ryan Miller, but ultimately they decided to sign Lalime.

Now Enroth will have one more year in Portland as the number one goalie where he will play 60-65 games for the Pirates, and he’s not taking the news of Lalime as a disappointment.

“There is a lot of things I still have to learn so if I have to play in (Portland). I’m going to go down and do my best,” Enroth said. “I think we had a really good team (in Portland) last year. I thought we had a really good chance to go deep, but it is what it is.”

Niedermayer’s signing might force a center back to Portland, but Regier in a subtle way indicated a trade might still be possible if the right deal came along.

As was mentioned on MHJ last week, the Sabres announced that Mike Weber agreed to his qualifying offer. It’s a one-year deal that will pay him $550,000 if he plays in the NHL or $55,000 if he should play in Portland.

Regier indicated Weber has a spot for him in Buffalo, but it’s up to him what he will do with it.

“I think there is a position for him to lose,” he said. “Our expectation is that he’ll play on this hockey club next year. That certainly is our hope.”

Regier addressed the coaching situation in Portland saying that he expects Kevin Dineen to return to Portland as they had conversations about a new contract. Dineen contract expired on June 30th and he was considered a candidate for the head coaching job in Columbus, which went to Scott Arniel.

Regier also said that they were close to replacing former assistant coach Kevin Collins, who took a coaching position with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

They were looking internally at replacing Collins with somebody currently working with Buffalo’s strength and conditioning coach Doug McKenney.

Another topic of interest is Sabres restricted free agent Mark Mancari. Regier said they still have interesting in keeping him in the organization as they qualified him last week.

That allows the Sabres to maintain his rights in the NHL, but Mancari indicated at the end of last season, he had no interest in playing the AHL again and Europe would be option that he’d look if he could get spot with an NHL team.

The Sabres wrap up their development camp tomorrow afternoon at Dwyer Arena in Lewiston, NY.

(Bill Hoppe contributed to this report)

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