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WILL HASEK, RAY, ANDREYCHUK PUT ON A DIFFERENT JERSEY?

It has been easy to forget the Buffalo Sabres have more offseason work to do aside from merely figuring what to do with Dominik Hasek.

The legendary goaltender has dominated hockey headlines for the past few weeks while the Sabres decide whether to exercise their $9 million option for next season, trade him or watch him walk as an unrestricted free agent.

The deadline comes tonight at the witching hour, but that deadline doesn't pertain to Hasek alone. Other veterans are dealing with crunch time.

The Sabres also hold a club option on future Hall of Famer Dave Andreychuk.

And fan favorite Rob Ray, an unrestricted free agent, is contemplating retirement, especially if he isn't brought back.

"I talked to Robbie (Thursday) night, and he said 'Over the next few days I'm going to decide if I even want to play anymore,' " said agent Roland Thompson, who represents both Ray and Andreychuk.

Ray, 33, who made $500,000 last season, is Buffalo's all-time leader in penalty minutes with 2,897 over 12 NHL seasons, all with the Sabres. He had four goals and six assists with 210 penalty minutes last season.

"This is a guy that has the Sabres tattooed on himself," Thompson said. "Does he want to play anywhere else? I honestly don't know. He's been with the Buffalo Sabres his whole life.

"It will be difficult for Robbie to put on another jersey. That would be hard. At the same time, if he's not in the Sabres' plans and he has the urge to play again, then the scenario changes."

Ray did not return messages seeking comment, and Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier was unavailable.

While Ray can deliberate on his future right now, Andreychuk must wait for a phone call today before plotting his next move.

Andreychuk's option is for $1.1 million. He recorded 20 goals and 13 assists in 74 games last season.

"They haven't made a decision," Thompson said. "He met with Darcy Regier on Tuesday and had a good talk with (Sabres coach) Lindy Ruff. The whole atmosphere was positive.

"To me, it's a natural for everybody. Where else do you get a 20-goal scorer for that price? And Buffalo's his home. It's a fit. But I'm not running the team, and they're looking at all alternatives."

Andreychuk, who also played for the Sabres from 1982-93, stated at the end of last season if he didn't return to Buffalo next season he would retire. But Thompson claimed his client has backed away from that stance.

"I think that was a year-end, emotional letdown," Thompson said. "I think David would entertain, if he becomes an unrestricted free agent, offers from other clubs. I don't think he's ready to hang them up.

"But David's choice is he'd like to return to Buffalo. He still thinks he can make a major contribution to them."

Andreychuk, 37, has scored 572 career goals and is tied for second in NHL history with 236 power-play goals, 13 behind Phil Esposito.

Andreychuk and Hasek are the last two Sabres with club options that have not been exercised.

Hasek trade rumors continue to swirl throughout the league. Most speculation still surrounds the St. Louis Blues, but the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks are also said to be in the mix.

Hasek's agent, Rich Winter, hinted to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch retirement remains a possibility if Hasek isn't content with a given situation.

The possibility of shutting it down gives Hasek, 36, added leverage in trade talks even though he doesn't have a no-trade clause in his contract. If he doesn't approve of a deal, he always has the option to walk away.

"I don't know what Dom wants to do, and I don't know if Dom knows what he wants to do yet," Winter said.

"Until we see the whites of their eyes, we're not sure which horse we're riding. We'd like to ride it around the ring and see if it feels comfortable."

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