Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek denies he asked to be traded but said he wasn't ready to discuss an extension of his contract, which runs out following the 2013-14 NHL season.
"I didn't ask to get traded," Vanek said Wednesday, according to the Olean (N.Y.) Times Herald. "But I didn't want to talk extension right now because I do want to see where this team is going and where it's heading and what direction."
Sabres general manager Darcy Regier previously said he had discussions about trading Vanek and goaltender Ryan Miller, who's also entering the final season of his contract. Vanek made it clear that any reports of him asking to leave the only NHL team he's played for were wrong.
"The media and people, they can make up their own assumptions as long as I know where I'm at and stuff and my family's at. That's fine," he told the newspaper. "At the end of the day people will find out, either from me or the Sabres, just like I'm telling you right now, that's not true. I've never asked for a trade, so I'm not surprised that I?m still here."
Vanek led the Sabres with 20 goals and 41 points last season. But as the team dropped in the standings, a number of veterans were traded, among them Jason Pominville, Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold.
There was some thought Vanek could be next to go, with the return for a 29-year-old scorer who has averaged 31 goals in his first eight NHL seasons likely high and able to speed the Sabres' rebuilding effort.
"I really didn't think of it [trade talk] too much because I never asked for a trade, so it's not like I was waiting for it to happen," he said. "If it were going to happen, it's part of the business and [I'd be] ready to move on."
He might still be moving on; he said he wasn't worried about talks for a new contract to replace the seven-year, $50 million deal he signed in the summer of 2007.
"To me, it's part of the business," he said. "I don't need an extension to feel good or play good. To me, I'm happy to play in the NHL. I'm happy to have a job. You just make the most of it."
Though he said he was unhappy to have to be part of a rebuilding effort, he said he's feeling a bit better now after the return of defenseman Henrik Tallinder, acquired in a trade with the New Jersey Devils last month.
"[Tallinder] was a good character guy who's going to help us," Vanek said. "He's still a good player."
Vanek also had positive things to say about coach Ron Rolston, who replaced Lindy Ruff in February.
"I think everyone got along with him," Vanek said. "I thought he was very structured, very personable, very honest. I think he definitely deserved a chance to have a full year. Under the circumstances he came in, it wasn't easy, and then trading away his older guys didn't probably help his cause. But I thought he handled it well. He prepared us well for every game.
"From that standpoint on, I look forward to working with him again."