“That’s certainly the direction it looks like it’s headed,” his agent, Jerrold Colton said Wednesday. With the NHL’s free agency period starting at noon Sunday, Colton declined to say whether he’s had any talks with the Sabres.
“Certainly, these things can get done if both sides are motivated,” Colton said. “But at this point, we’re anticipating that Dainius will hit the market.”
The Sabres have bigger concerns beyond Zubrus, with the team standing to lose co-captains, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, to free agency.
The Sabres have finally begun negotiations with both players, and did make Briere an offer late Wednesday evening, Buffalo’s WGRZ-TV reported. It’s not clear what the offer is for a player seeking a minimum four-year deal, and expected to command a US$6 million-a-year salary.
Briere finished 10th in the NHL with a career-high 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists).
Briere’s agent Pat Brisson declined comment, while Sabres general manager Darcy Regier has declined interview requests this week.
Drury’s agent, Mark Witkin, has also declined to discuss the status of talks involving his client. Drury, who scored a career-high 69 points (37 goals, 32 assists), is projected to double the $3.15 million he made last season.
Zubrus made $1.85 million in the final year of his contract last season. Buffalo acquired him in a deal with Washington at the trade deadline in February. A 10-year veteran, he had four goals and eight points in 19 games with the Sabres, and finished with 24 goals and 60 points – both career-highs – in 79 games.
Zubrus added eight assists in 15 playoff games, but missed Buffalo’s final postseason game – a 3-2 overtime loss to Ottawa in Game 5 the Eastern Conference finals – because of a knee injury.
“He loved being with Buffalo and is still open to that possibility,” Colton said. “But we’re very confident that there will be a lot of interest in him out there.”