BUFFALO, N.Y. — Forward Maxim Afinogenov thinks it’s time he sought a fresh start after nine seasons in Buffalo, while defenceman Teppo Numminen hasn’t made any decision as to whether he’ll retire after completing his 20th NHL campaign.
Those were among the notable developments on Monday after Sabres players met for the final time two days after finishing their season and missing the playoffs for a second straight year.
Buffalo (41-32-9) finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points out of contention.
Afinogenov all but assured reporters he won’t be back now that he’s eligible to become a free agent this summer, and following a season in which he was sparingly used when healthy.
"It’s probably better for me to move on and find myself somewhere else," Afinogenov said. "The last two years have been going nowhere for me and for the team also. I think something new should be next year."
Buffalo’s third-round pick in the 1997 draft, Afinogenov is the team’s longest-serving member, and completed one of his worst statistical seasons. In 48 games, he finished with six goals and 14 assists for 20 points, his lowest total in a year in which Afinogenov played more than half a season.
The Sabres haven’t discussed their off-season plans, but it’s likely Afinogenov won’t be part of them considering the team attempted to trade him last summer.
He was also in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch over the final month after missing 24 games with a groin injury.
"Ten years: I had some bumps and I had some good times. But it was real nice," he said.
Afinogenov is a three-time 20 goal-scorer, and enjoyed his most productive years in the two seasons following the NHL lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.
He combined for 47 goals and 134 points in helping the Sabres reach the Eastern Conference finals in 2006 and ’07.
Numminen, meanwhile, said he’s not going to rush into any decision about his future. The 40-year-old completed his one-year contract, appearing in 57 games a year after missing all but one game after having surgery to repair a faulty heart valve.
"I don’t intend anything. I just intend to take a little vacation, go home, see the kids," Numminen said. "So it’s too early to say."
The first step will be consulting with doctors at The Cleveland Clinic, where he had his operation in September 2007.
With 1,372 games played, the Finnish-born Numminen holds the NHL record for most games by a European-developed player.
He had two goals and 15 assists in 57 games this season, his fourth with Buffalo, and that included an assist in the Sabres season finale, a 6-1 win over Boston on Saturday.
Following the game and after he had changed into his street clothes, Numminen took a few minutes to stand at the Sabres bench with his three children while his wife videotaped them.
Numminen explained he wanted to enjoy the moment with his family, especially if that proved to be his final game.
."Well, with the condition I have, you never know if it’s the end," Numminen said.
Sabres forward Derek Roy’s hockey season isn’t over.
He has accepted an invitation to play for Team Canada at the World Championships in Switzerland. The Canadian team will be headed by Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.
Goaltender Ryan Miller said he’s turned down an invitation to play for Team USA to rest a sprained left ankle that forced him to miss 13 games this season.
Miller said he returned before the injury had completely healed, noting the ankle bothered him in the final three games.
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