The Buffalo Sabres are known to be looking to upgrade on defense after giving up 300 goals against last season and missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While it is expected that GM Kevyn Adams may explore free agency to add a top-four blueliner, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting that the Sabres have been checking in on the availability of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce.
BRETT. PESCE. CALLED. GAME. pic.twitter.com/7ciJUKzJBU
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) November 30, 2022
The 28-year-old blueliner is in the final year of a six-year, $24.15 million deal ($4.025 million AAV). The Hurricanes would like to extend the eight-year NHL veteran and can do so after July 1, but reportedly they would consider dealing Pesce for what would be expected to be a significant return if they cannot reach an agreement.
How Valuable Is Pesce?
Pesce has scored in the 25 to 30-point range in four of the last five years, but his value is less as a scorer and more as a steady two-way defenseman. The Sabres have an effective top pairing with Rasmus Dahlin and Mattias Samuelsson but are likely looking for a stabilizing influence to play the right side with Calder Trophy nominee Owen Power. If Pesce hits unrestricted free agency next summer, he will most likely draw significant interest from a number of clubs looking for a mobile two-way defenseman, driving up his salary in the same range as what Damon Severson earned on his new deal with Columbus ($6.25 million AAV).
Although no details were revealed in terms of what the Hurricanes would be looking for in return, the price might be mitigated by Pesce’s short-term status, but that could be counterbalanced by a large number of teams having interest. The Sabres could be in on Pesce as a one-year rental, although it would make sense for them to try to get him signed to a long-term extension.
Various reports have Buffalo locking up Dahlin to an eight-year extension in excess of $10 million per season after July 1, they already have Samuelsson locked up for seven years and Adams may be trying to get Power extended this summer, but next season the Sabres have a window to add a salary on defense, with Dahlin on the final year of his three-year bridge deal at $6 million and Power is on the final year of his entry-level contract ($916,667).