The Buffalo Sabres have been attempting to get cornerstone defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power signed to contract extensions since they became eligible to do so on July 1, but with mere days to go before the beginning of training camp, GM Kevyn Adams has yet to close the deal. NHL general managers and coaches were in Chicago this week and Adams was asked by The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and Michael Russo whether the eight-year deal that Ottawa blueliner Jake Sanderson would have an impact on negotiations or the expected price tags of the Sabres former top picks.
“I think no matter what, when you see contracts around the league, you’re always paying attention because obviously there’s comps, but I think for us even before we work on a deal, we’ve projected out what other guys are gonna potentially get to. So I don’t want to say it took us by a huge surprise, but (Sanderson) got a nice price.” Adams said. “We started conversations early in the offseason with (Dahlin and Power) and continued all through the summer. We continue to talk now and they’ve been really positive. So it’s something that we’re still going to work on here over the next couple of weeks.”
The Senators signed Sanderson to an eight-year, $64.4 million deal on Wednesday after the 21-year-old posted 32 points (4 goals, 28 assists) in 77 games as a rookie season. The 2020 fifth-overall pick had another year left on his entry-level contract (the same as Power) and with the deal, Ottawa locks a top-pairing defenseman until the age of 29.
There continue to be rumors that Buffalo and Dahlin will announce an eight-year-max contract extension at some point before the start of the season and that the deal will make the 23-year-old one of the top-paid defensemen in the NHL, but there has been little chatter about Power and his status entering the final year of his rookie contract. The 20-year-old had 35 points (4 goals, 31 assists) in his first full NHL season and based on indications from the Sabres, they would like to mimic what the Senators did with Sanderson and get Power locked up through the majority of his prime years, but agent Pat Brisson’s playbook might be similar to the approach of what Auston Matthews has done with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) March 14, 2023
Matthews out of his ELC signed a five-year deal for 11.634 million per season (the second-highest salary in the NHL), an extension that brought him to unrestricted free agency until the age of 26. The four-year extension that the former Hart Trophy winner agreed to in August made him the highest-paid player in the NHL starting next season and enabled Matthews to hit unrestricted free agency and one more big payday at 30 years old.
The Sabres may be looking for a seven-or-eight year deal with Power to buy unrestricted free agent years and save money down the line, while the Toronto native might want to sign a bridge deal similar to K’Andre Miller of the NY Rangers or Evan Bouchard of the Oilers that would give him a sizable bump in the short term and more leverage for a big payday in two or three years. This is a tug-of-war that may play out over next season and if Power puts up big numbers this season, it could cost Buffalo millions in cap space.