Sabres re-sign Smehlik, Varada

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres re-signed veterans
Richard Smehlik and Vaclav Varada, and retained the rights to eight
other players.

The moves Thursday come less than three days before the team
faces an even bigger decision on whether to pick up the one-year $9
million option on goaltender Dominik Hasek's contract. The Sabres
and Hasek's agent Rich Winter said a decision on the six-time
Vezina Trophy-winner was not imminent. He is eligible to become a
restricted free agent on Sunday.

Smehlik, considered the club's steadiest defenseman, and Varada,
a hard-checking right wing, both had the one-year option picked up
on their respective contracts. Smehlik will make $1.6 million next
season, and Varada's $1 million.

The Sabres also tendered one-year offers to eight other players,
including Miroslav Satan, who finished second in team scoring with
29 goals and 62 points last season, and Alexei Zhitnik, who led all
Sabres defensemen with eight goals and 37 points last season.

Also tendered offers were forwards J.P. Dumont, Eric Boulton,
Denis Hamel, Erik Rasmussen and Chris Taylor, and defenseman Rhett
Warrener, considered heir-apparent to the team's captaincy vacated
following last weekend's trade of Michael Peca.

Of the eight, Satan, Warrener and Zhitnik have until July 15 to
determine whether to file for arbitration. They also have the
option to reject the Sabres offer, which represents a 10 percent
raise over what they made last year.

Zhitnik has said he wants a long-term deal.

The remaining five players have until July 30 to accept the
Sabres' offer or try to negotiate a new deal.

Along with Hasek, the Sabres have yet to determine whether to
exercise a one-year option on veteran forward Dave Andreychuk.

The Sabres stand to lose five other regulars, including
late-season acquisitions Donald Audette and Steve Heinze, who
become unrestricted free agents on Sunday.