The Ottawa Senators have done an effective job of locking up their core group to long-term deals and GM Pierre Dorion followed the same playbook with defenseman Jake Sanderson, signing the 21-year-old to an eight-year, $64.4 million deal on Wednesday. Sanderson, who was selected fifth overall in the 2020 NHL Draft played two years at North Dakota before turning pro in 2022 and scored 32 points (4 goals, 28 assists) in 77 games with the Sens in his rookie season.
The son of former Buffalo Sabres winger Geoff Sanderson is projected to be a top-pairing blueliner and with the deal, the Sens are making a major investment based on his expected value down the line, as they have done with forwards Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, and defenseman Thomas Chabot. Chabot, a 2015 first-rounder, posted a career-high 55 points in 2019 and Dorion locked up the blueliner on an eight-year max deal for $64 million the following summer at the age of 23.
⚫️ & 🔴 LOADING…
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) September 7, 2023
One could argue that the Sens lost their wager on Chabot (who has never exceeded those totals since) and Norris (who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last October), but for smaller market franchises it is something they have to do to retain their potential stars.
Does Sanderson Deal Affect Sabres?
The Sabres have followed the same blueprint, signing forwards Tage Thompson, Dylan Cozens, and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to long-term deals proactively after one good season. Rumors persist that GM Kevyn Adams is working on getting Rasmus Dahlin signed to an eight-year deal, making him one of the highest-paid defensemen in the NHL after posting a career-high 73 points last season, but the Sanderson deal could have an impact on what Buffalo would have to pay franchise cornerstone Owen Power on his next deal.
The 20-year-old former top pick had very similar stats to Sanderson as a rookie last season (4 goals, 31 assists in 79 games), is eligible to sign an extension entering the final year of his entry-level contract, and is represented by the same agent in Pat Brisson. Even though there have been indications that Power likes playing for Buffalo and wants to make a commitment to playing with the Sabres long-term, the contractual circumstances might be different. Power signing a two-or-three-year bridge deal would give him a greater portfolio to negotiate a deal closer to what Dahlin is expected to get (around $10.5 million per season).
— Buffalo Hockey Moments (@SabresPlays) April 11, 2023
The increase of the salary cap over the next two seasons might also factor into Power’s representative’s equation on his next deal and pressure on the Sabres will increase if the Calder Trophy finalist begins to score and dominate as many expect him to, and the fact that a division rival has been successful at getting their top blueliners locked up should send a signal to Adams that being proactive and getting Dahlin and Power extended is his highest priority.