Brian Gionta came to Buffalo three years ago to guide a young team to the playoffs. It hasn’t happened yet, so he wanted to finish the job.
All he can do at the moment is hope and cross his fingers. Even that might not be enough.
The primary goal of the captain, who is an unrestricted free agent, is to re-sign with the Sabres. He’s been contacted by other teams during this week’s interview process, but he was waiting to see if a fit could be found with Buffalo.
At the moment, it’s hard to find one.
The Sabres added former captain Jason Pominville on Friday in a trade with Minnesota. Pominville and Gionta both play right wing.
While the Sabres want veterans, General Manager Jason Botterill also said he’ll put promising prospects in position to succeed. Gionta’s right-wing spot is crowded with young guys.
After Kyle Okposo, Sam Reinhart (assuming new coach Phil Housley wants to keep the former center on the wing) and Pominville, there’s Nick Baptiste and Hudson Fasching. Justin Bailey played left wing last year, but he came into the organization as a right winger.
Even with a pay cut from last year’s $3.25 million salary, Gionta may no longer have a home in Buffalo.
His departure would ramp up the captaincy debate, with Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel serving as the top candidates.