The Buffalo Sabres' weekend meltdown in Colorado and Arizona hasn't impacted captain Brian Gionta's thoughts about Wednesday's trade deadline one iota. Even with the possibility a Stanley Cup contender could be interested in him in a bottom-6 forward role, Gionta wants to stay. He said the same thing Tuesday as he did two weeks ago in Ottawa.
"I've made my position pretty clear I want to stay here and be here going on in the future," Gionta said after the morning skate in KeyBank Center. "I want to see this thing through. We'll see what happens. It's a tough weekend, a frustrating weekend, but that doesn't change anything."
Gionta, 37, is in the final season of the three-year, $12.75 million deal he signed with the Sabres in July, 2014. His cap hit for the rest of the season would be a shade over $950,000.
Gionta has 12 goals and 15 assists in 62 games and will skate up a line tonight, on right wing with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. Coach Dan Bylsma said the team has no plans to healthy scratch any unrestricted free agents as injury protection with Wednesday's deadline looming.
Gionta's contract has heavy no-trade clauses, listing only five unnamed teams he would accept a deal to. Gionta has no plans to retire and it's possible the Sabres would try to deal him to one of those five teams and bring him back on a one-year deal July 1.
"Not my first preference," Gionta said, when asked about a trade and return. "But we'd have to see what happens when that time comes."
Gionta, a former captain in Montreal, relishes wearing the 'C' here as well and that's also why he wants to stay.
"A lot of that goes into it," he said. "Part of the reasoning coming here a few years back is to see this through and make this a playoff team. I want to be a part of that."
The Sabres, of course, are in dire straits in that respect after the weekend's double dose of disappointment, sitting eight points out of third place in the Atlantic Division and seven out of the final wild-card.
"The dreams are not shot," Gionta insisted. "It's an uphill battle for sure. We didn't help ourselves at all. At the same time, we get a little bit of a hot streak here, start putting some wins together, we can still make up for those tough losses."