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Vanek's future in Buffalo clouded by Sabres trades

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)

Thomas Vanek is unsure about his long-term future with the Buffalo Sabres now that the struggling team is battling through a rebuilding process.

Vanek, Buffalo's leading scorer, has one year remaining on a seven-year, $50 million contract he signed in 2007. And he spoke with caution in the locker room Thursday, one day after the Sabres traded former captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild. In the days leading up to the trade deadline, the Sabres also dealt veteran defensemen Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold.

General manager Darcy Regier said after the Pominville trade that it's difficult to put a timetable on the rebuilding process. And that's puzzling to Vanek.

''I mean, obviously we gave up three good players in the last week and got a lot of picks in return,'' Vanek said. ''Again, we'll see.''

Vanek leads the Sabres in scoring with 33 points (16 goals) in 29 games. He's a four-time 30-goal scorer and has topped 40 twice in his career.

He's one of few players left from a core group of Sabres that has anchored the team for several seasons, and he might be on his way out soon, too. He expects to have a clearer picture after the season ends.

''I haven't talked to them about anything so it's hard to say yes or no because no one has let me know what direction this is heading,'' Vanek said. ''So we'll finish the year out and I'm sure, at least I would expect them to let me know what the future is.''

Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is also hoping to know more about his future when the season wraps up. Miller, like Vanek, has one year remaining on his contract.

''I don't know, I have to talk to Darcy about it,'' Miller said. ''We'll just see where everything falls and talk to Darcy about what his plan is or what's going on because these are conversations we haven't had time to have.

''I don't know if we'll have a chance to talk about it `til after the season.''

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NOTES: Vanek hopes to be back when the Sabres play Friday against Ottawa. He's missed the last four games with an upper-body injury. ... With Pominville gone, the Sabres have decided not to name a new captain for the remainder of the season. Interim coach Ron Rolston said Steve Ott will be a third assistant captain in Pominville's place. ... Regier said on Wednesday that forward Ville Leino (upper body) is not expected to return in the near future.

Tagged: Sabres, Wild, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Ryan Miller, Ville Leino

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