COLUMBUS -- The Sabres are playing Russian roulette with their top two assets.
And they could lose out, big time.
With unrestricted free agency beginning in one week, the Sabres have yet to hold any serious contract discussions with centres Daniel Briere and Chris Drury.
The general impression is Buffalo GM Darcy Regier is dragging his feet with Briere and Drury.
He hasn't shown representatives for either of the club's top two players any willingness to make an offer.
Surely, the Sabres are going to make an effort this week to keep either Drury or Briere.
They've been afraid to say anything publicly because they don't want to look like they are choosing one guy or insulting anybody.
Last June, the Ottawa Senators had to make a choice between Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara. Then-GM John Muckler had conversations with Chara until mid-June, butbacked off and made a decision to keep Redden at $6.5 million US because the club didn't want to lose them both.
You could argue Muckler made the wrong decision, but at least he made one.
If the Sabres lose Drury and Briere, that could be devastating for the club.
The talk is the Flyers and Habs will be among a group of teams making a pitch for Briere.
Drury is going to attract attention from San Jose and Los Angeles.
One thing is certain: If Regier doesn't make one of them an offer, they'll both be shuffling out of Buffalo this summer.
OFF THE GLASS
The Wild thought it had a deal with the Bruins for goalie Manny Fernandez on Friday, but it fell through. Sources say the Bruins backed out of the deal. It's believed the trade would have seen the Bruins give the Wild a No. 1 pick, two No. 2 selections and winger P.J. Axelsson. Boston would then have shopped goalie Hannu Toivonen. It might wind up being a move the Bruins are happy they didn't make. Fernandez doesn't have a great reputation around the NHL. He is viewed as somebody who is willing to take credit when things go well but won't accept any blame when they don't ... The Predators are looking to move defenceman Marek Zidlicky as the firesale continues in Nashville. "Right now, we have an owner who really doesn't want to be an owner and he wants to cut the payroll," said Predators GM David Poile. That's defenceman Kimmo Timonen, forward Scott Hartnell and goalie Tomas Vokoun who've been sent packing in the past 10 days.
AROUND THE BOARDS
San Jose GM Doug Wilson said he's not trying to trade centre Patrick Marleau, but admits he's had conversations ... The Wild and Thrashers have shown mild interest in C Alexei Yashin ... The Isles are going to make one last pitch to try to re-sign winger Ryan Smyth before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. GM Garth Snow, desperate to keep Smyth, has already told him if he returns he'll be captain. It's believed Calgary, Dallas, Detroit and Toronto will all make a pitch for Smyth ... The Blues are going to make a pitch for Senators defenceman Tom Preissing when he becomes a UFA ... Our thoughts are with John Ferguson Sr., the senior pro scout of the Sharks, this weekend. He wasn't able to attend the draft because he's at home in Windsor battling the cancer he was diagnosed with last November. In 1994, while working for the Senators, Ferguson drafted a kid named Daniel Alfredsson with the 133rd pick. Here's wishing he and his family all the best in these very difficult times.