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Rambler's Top100

29 2007 . 
Ex-Sabre Zubrus happy to be a Devil // Buffalo News

By Mike Harrington 

NEWARK, N.J. Youve heard this story before. A Sabre was willing to stay in Buffalo but didnt get an offer and struck it big on the open market.

Dainius Zubrus was essentially a rent-a-player for Buffalo last season, after he was acquired in a February trade from Washington. But he provided a physical presence in the corners that was unique on the roster and was a big reason why Jaromir Jagr largely disappeared during Buffalos conference semifinal win over the New York Rangers.

But when free agency called, Zubrus was quick to answer the New Jersey Devils because the Sabres never talked to him.

I kept my options open but the team had other things like Chris [Drury] and Danny [Briere] to deal with so I understood, Zubrus said before Fridays game between the teams in Prudential Center. I kind of knew those are things that had to be solved first before I got a phone call and I never really did get one.

Zubrus was making $1.875 million with Buffalo. He had a career-high 24 goals, 20 while playing on a line with Alexander Ovechkin in Washington. And he didnt score in the playoffs, registering eight assists in 15 games.

Maybe the Sabres would have gone into the $2.5-$3 million range but certainly not for more than three or four years. Just two days after losing Scott Gomez to the Rangers in free agency, the Devils came in with six years and $20.4 million, or $3.4 million a season, and Zubrus was quick to sign. For all the talk about Briere and Drury departing, the loss of Zubrus is easily overlooked.

Its tough to judge if Im surprised they both left, Zubrus said of Buffalos former co-captains. Quite a few people thought maybe one of them would stay. They were two important guys but it just didnt happen. Players have a right to go somewhere else and teams have the right to offer money or not offer money.

It didnt end there the way I wanted it, obviously, but I dont think about it now. I was happy and Ill remember being there 10 years from now for sure but Im happy here too.

Zubrus entered Fridays game fifth on the Devils in scoring with 18 points (six goals, 12 assists). He has been skating on the top line with Patrik Elias and Rochester native Brian Gionta. 

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