BUFFALO – In the week leading up to training camp, contract talks for Sabres defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power became “more intense, more frequent,” general manager Kevyn Adams said.
Still, nothing was completed before camp opened Thursday.
“I was on the phone with both of their agents for a long time late last night,” Adams said prior to Thursday’s opening session in KeyBank Center. “… No update on where we’re at. I don’t think it’s necessarily healthy to get into details, especially when you’re talking about contract discussions, but we’re gonna keep working at it and I feel we’re in a good place.”
Dahlin, 23, and Power, 20, became eligible to sign extensions July 1. They each have one year remaining on their respective deals before they can become restricted free agents.
Adams said the Sabres started discussing new deals with the players’ representatives around the NHL Scouting Combine in early June.
“The key takeaways are that I’ve explained to their camps and to them individually how important they are to this franchise and how we feel about them, and we want them here long-term and just that kind of conversation,” he said. “They’ve clearly indicated to me and to us that this is where they want to be, and they believe in this team, and they believe in the direction we’re headed.”
Dahlin won’t allow negotiations to become a distraction.
“I can only control what I can control, right, and that’s get ready for the season,” he said. “Get my body right, my mind right. That’s not up to me. I let them do their thing.”
He added: “I have one more year on my contract and I’m not really worried about anything. I love the city. I love the team. I love everything.”
Dahlin and Power, both of whom the Sabres drafted first overall, have established themselves as two of the NHL’s dynamic young defensemen. Dahlin registered 15 goals and 73 points in 78 games last season. Meanwhile, Power recorded four goals and 35 points in 79 contests. He averaged 23 minutes, 48 seconds of ice time a game, the highest total among rookies.
As one of the game’s elite defensemen, Dahlin, who’s beginning his sixth season, could earn a long-term contract worth around $10 million a year. Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Erik Karlsson, who won the Norris Trophy last season, is the league’s highest-paid defenseman, carrying an $11.5 million salary cap hit.
Dahlin signed a three-year, $18 million contract in 2021. Power inked a three-year, entry-level deal worth $5.5 million in 2022.
Adams said Sabres winger Jack Quinn, who tore his Achilles tendon during an off-ice workout in late June, will probably need six months to recover.
“That probably puts us in a spot somewhere around Christmas in that range,” he said. “That doesn’t mean he’s going to be ready then. … I promise you we’re not going to say, ‘Oh, he’s doing well, let’s move this timeline up.’ If the doctor says at a certain time he’s ready, he will play. If he says he’ll be a little longer, we’ll wait. I’m always careful with exact timelines because everyone heals differently.
“What we’ve worked on in sports performance and sports science is more checklists. Have you hit a milestone? Check. Go to the next milestone. That gets us away from this injury having to be this timeline. We want to make sure he’s ready to go.”
Notes: Sabres coach Don Granato said he’d like to keep Casey Mittelstadt, who has moved between center and wing in recent seasons, in the middle. Mittelstadt pivoted Jiri Kulich and Alex Tuch on Thursday. … Sabres prospects Vsevolod Komarov (lower body) and Viktor Neuchev (undisclosed, day to day) did not practice Thursday. Adams said Komarov has started rehab skates. … The Sabres will hold today’s session of camp at LECOM Harborcenter.