Report: Another NHL team turns their back on their captain

The veteran of 1000+ NHL games will need to find a new home for 2017-18

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With all the talk about unsigned veteran free-agents like Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan on the market the last few days, there’s one player who has been left out of the mix: Brian Gionta.

The 38 year-old veteran of 1006 career NHL games just wrapped up the final year of a three year, $12.75 million contract and hit the free-agent market on July 1st. Nearly three weeks later however and he still finds himself without a contract for 2017-18.. And, according to his agent, a return to Buffalo doesn’t seem likely.

“While we haven’t slammed the door – and I don’t think they have, either – I think they’ve also been pretty honest that it’s probably going to be a fairly unlikely scenario,” player agent Steve Bartlett said when speaking to the Times Herald. “So I’ve been focusing on trying to look at other opportunities for him around the NHL.”

How likely is it that Gionta catches on with a team for a 16th NHL season? The former Sabres captain just put up three consecutive 35 point seasons and managed 15 goals in 2016-17, so its clear he still has some gas left in the tank. While initially a return to the Sabres looked to be in the works, those plans were dashed when the team re-acquired fellow right winger Jason Pominville from the Minnesota Wild and effectively replacing Gionta in the team’s lineup.

For now, Gionta plays the waiting game. With the first wave of free-agent signings over, he’ll just have to hope that he catches a wave during the inevitable late summer free-agent scramble.