BUFFALO (LGS) — The Buffalo Sabres extended qualifying offers to five of their six restricted free agents yesterday including leading goal scorer Thomas Vanek.
Forwards Derek Roy, Daniel Paille and Andrew Peters along with defensemen Nathan Paetsch were also extended qualifying offers.
The Sabres ensured all five players will now remain restricted free agents. Should another NHL team try to sign any one of the five, the Sabres have the right to match the offer or be compensated with draft picks should they decline.
In the case of Vanek and Roy, the moves by the Sabres are definitely considered only the first step in negotiating a longer contract.
Vanek will see a substantial raise this offseason after finishing as the league's fifth leading goal scorer and 19th in total points. The Austrian-born winger made $942,400 last season.
Stephen Bartlett, Vanek's agent, told the Associated Press yesterday that he has not yet been in contact with Sabres' General Manager Darcy Regier.
"It doesn't surprise me," Bartlett told the AP. "If I was in his shoes, I'd probably deal with the unrestricteds first."
Two independent sources have told LGS this week that it appears more than likely that Chris Drury's days in Buffalo are over. Both sources believe Drury is looking to test the open market. And according to both sources, there is very strong reason to believe that the center will most likely wind up on the Pacific Coast where his offseason home is located.
LGS has not been able to attain any new information this week regarding the status of Daniel Briere. Last week, a source told LGS that the Sabres' co-captain has not had any sort of contact with the team prior to the team's press conference last Thursday.
However, it does appear as if talks have begun, even if they are just preliminary. The Sabres have until July 1st to sign their unrestricted free agents before exposing them to an eagerly-awaiting open market.
According to John Wawrow of the Associated Press, Dainius Zubrus' agent Jerrold Colton said his client is open to returning to the Sabres.
The only restricted free agent the Sabres did not qualify was minor league goaltender Adam Berkhoel. The Sabres do have until Monday to do so. If they choose not to, the goaltender will become an unrestricted free agent.