The Buffalo Sabres won't extend a contract offer to unrestricted free agent Mike Grier by Saturday, ushering the physical winger into the open market for all to bid upon.
That doesn't mean the Sabres don't want him back.
General Manager Darcy Regier indicated the Sabres still have an interest in bringing back the valuable leader and penalty killer who skated all season with co-captain Chris Drury on a top-two line.
"In the end, whether they make an offer or not is up to them," Grier's agent, Jay Fee, said from his Boston office. "But Mike has made it clear he's not ruling out Buffalo by any means. I want that to be real clear."
Grier, 31, will be unattached for the first time in his career. Once he starts fielding offers from near and far, it will be much more difficult for the Sabres to bring him back. Teams have until the free agency period begins to sign their own unrestricted free agents without having to compete with the rest of the NHL.
"What he's looking forward to is seeing what the marketplace is for him," Fee said. "Mike has waited a long time for unrestricted free agency, and that's no reflection on Buffalo