Could the Sabres be looking to trade Ott?
Steve Ott is the only impending unrestricted free agent in the Buffalo Sabres dressing room willing to emphatically state that he’s prepared to wait out the rebuild. Yet the captain has no idea if he’ll be given that chance. “We had some negotiating going back and forth and (former GM) Darcy Regier kind of pulled the plug and said he was going to wait until training camp,” says Ott of some summer discussions. “Then training camp came and nothing was said.”
Now the entire landscape around the franchise has been altered. Pat LaFontaine was hired as president of hockey operations and is currently conducting a GM search with no end in sight. In fact, some in the industry think he could end up essentially holding that job himself through the end of the season. Whoever is calling the shots as the March 5 trade deadline approaches will need to make a decision on the future of Ott, long-time No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller and perennial 30-goal man Matt Moulson—all of whom are playing on expiring contracts.
Ott was acquired in a July 2012 trade from Dallas and loves living in Buffalo. The 31-year-old thinks the organization’s rebuild has a chance to go a little more smoothly than others because of the commitment shown by owner Terry Pegula. However, with an affordable $2.95-million cap hit and the Sabres more likely to win the draft lottery than 30 games this season, he’s realistic about the fact that he might ultimately end up getting traded. “You’ve got to look at it: Who are your assets?” says Ott, who calls it an honour to be mentioned in rumours and wanted by other teams. “We understand the whole asset side of things. Myself, (Miller) and (Moulson) are the unrestricted guys in this dressing room, and we’re going to probably cause a little stir because of where we are—in a rebuilding atmosphere we’re usually guys (the team) will get pieces for. Otherwise, that’s bad business.”