BUFFALO, N.Y. – A day after Brian Campbell broke off negotiations on a contract extension, Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said he isn’t planning to put the two-time all-star defenceman on the trading block.
Campbell, scheduled to become a free agent following this season, said Monday he was done talking to the team about a new contract, leading to speculation the Sabres would deal the 27-year-old before losing him for nothing.
On Tuesday, Regier admitted he was disappointed Campbell halted the talks, but insisted a trade is not imminent.
“That’s not the intention and that’s not the focal point,” Regier said. “The focal point is to try to sign him. You never say never about anything, but the thing we’d like to do and hope to do is to sign him. You’re disappointed because you want to keep going on it. “
Campbell, selected to his second consecutive all-star team last week, cited personal and team distractions as the reasons he suspended negotiations.
“I’m done talking about it with the team until the end of the year,” he said. “There’s more important things right now than just me. We’ve got to win. I think it’s for the best.”
If Campbell leaves, he’ll join a growing list of players that have bolted the Sabres via free agency over the past two off-seasons. Last summer, the team lost its co-captains, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, while in July 2006 the Sabres had defenceman Jay McKee and forward Mike Grier leave.
Regier downplayed Campbell’s decision as a prelude to another departure.
“First of all, it’s far too early,” he said. “I think you have to take Brian at his word that it’s something he wants to get done after the season. That’s his right. Certainly we’re going to approach it that way and we’ll go from there.”
Campbell will certainly get a substantial raise from the US$1.75 million he is paid now. Entering Tuesday’s games, he is eighth among defenceman in scoring with 29 points, and is one of only a handful of offensively skilled defencemen that are slated to be on the open market.
The others include Ottawa’s Wade Redden, Colorado’s John-Michael Liles and the New York Rangers’ Michal Roszival.
Campbell, Buffalo’s sixth-round draft pick in 1997, was picked to be a starter in last year’s all-star game and finished 2006-07 with a career-high 48 points.