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July 06, 2006

(CP) -- Martin Biron is about the most upbeat player you'll ever meet in the NHL and that ebullient personality is coming in handy these days.

Starting goalie jobs are becoming more scarce with every passing day, Dan Cloutier taking the latest opening in Los Angeles after his trade from Vancouver on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old Biron asked the Sabres to trade him last month, wanting to pursue a No. 1 job elsewhere since Ryan Miller is the man in Buffalo. Biron was crushed when it didn't happen during draft weekend in Vancouver but he's hanging in there.

"It's a waiting game," Biron said Thursday. "But a lot of players around the league are in the same boat. A lot things still need to be sorted out. You look at the Sabres, they've got their hands full with a dozen guys going to arbitration."

In the meantime Biron finds himself reading up on the daily NHL transactions and trying to figure out what it means for him.

"Yes, definitely, and for two reasons," he said while en route with his family from Buffalo to his native Quebec City. "First, because I'm in the middle of it. But two because I'm just a big hockey fan and I want to know where everybody is going. It was interesting to see Marc Denis go to Tampa and Dan Cloutier yesterday to go Los Angeles."

Interesting because it eliminated two more spots for Biron. There are still openings out there. Detroit remains without a No. 1 goalie although they had veteran Ed Belfour in town Wednesday for a physical. Florida is also looking for a goalie to push Alex Auld. And the St. Louis Blues are beating the bushes as well, wanting some help for Curtis Sanford.

"I don't want to name places publicly," Biron said. "I'll be happy for the opportunity if it comes."

Sabres GM Darcy Regier likely doesn't want to deal Biron before he re-signs Miller, a restricted free agent. If talks with Miller get testy, Regier can use Biron as leverage.

But Biron can't even stomach the thought of still being with the Sabres come training camp.

"I'd be extremely disappointed," said Biron. "Because I feel like I've given a lot to the organization. I had an excellent training camp coming out of the lockout last season and didn't see any playing time in the first month of the season. I was bitter about the whole situation but I was professional about it and respected their decision."

Indeed Biron kept up a great attitude, supporting Miller throughout the season. Now it's time to move on.

"I thought I really gave them what they wanted from me this past year," said Biron. "I think everybody understands now is probably the time for us to go our separate ways because I feel like I have more to offer than what they asked me to do last year."

Biron is a restricted free agent. The Sabres tendered him a $2.1-million US qualifying offer which he hasn't signed yet. He has until July 15 to accept it.

"I felt it might be good for other teams to look at me before I signed it, kind of like Marc Denis. He went into Tampa Bay and the Lightning still had all their options in front of them. They signed him to a long-term deal.

"So I feel like I want to keep all the options open for other teams as long as I can."

In the meantime, he's got his fingers crossed. Every time his phone rings he hopes it's Regier. The two haven't yet talked about the situation.

"Personally he hasn't told me anything but my agent has talked to Darcy a bunch of times over the last few weeks," said Biron. "It's always been the same, `We're feeling out the market.'

"I hope he understands that there's more for me to do and I want to do it somewhere else."
 
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