BUFFALO – Following the season, some of the Sabres’ decision makers sat down with defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power and told them how much they believe in them and what they mean to the franchise.
“There was an excitement from both of them and a clear message to me that they both want to be here long-term,” Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Wednesday during a news conference in KeyBank Center to discuss the upcoming NHL Draft.
Then earlier this month at the NHL Scouting Combine, Adams and some of his staff sat down and chatted with the agents who represent the youngsters about contract extensions.
“(We) have started those conversations so now we’re in the process of working our way through it,” Adams said. “We’ve made it clear to them we see them as really important people and pieces of our franchise moving forward and they’ve made it clear to us they want to be here, so we’ll keep working on it.”
Dahlin and Power, both of whom have one year remaining on their current deals, can’t sign new contracts until July 1.
The Sabres have been aggressive in locking up members of their core during the last year. Center Tage Thompson and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson both sign long-term extensions prior to last season. Center Dylan Cozens inked one during the year.
As two of the NHL’s most talented young defensemen, Dahlin, 23, and Power, 20, will each earn huge raises.
Dahlin’s entering the final season of a three-year, $18 million contract. His new deal could be worth around $9 million a season. Power’s entering the final season of an entry-level contract that has a base salary of $832,500. His new deal might be worth $5 or $6 million a season.
The Sabres ended last season with four goalies on the roster, double the usual number.
Comrie, Levi and Luukkonen have a combined 100 games of NHL experience. While none of them have started regularly for a full season, each one briefly grabbed the No. 1 job in 2022-23.
Adams said he’d be confident going into the season with the three goalies.
“I personally believe we’re in a position of strength,” Adams said. “When it comes to this, we feel that we have three NHL goaltenders, which is a great thing to have. … Whether we go into the season with three – it’s not an ideal situation – but we’re open minded to it. We’ll let it play itself out.”
Adams plans to explore other options for Buffalo’s net.
“I’m not doing my job if I’m not in on every conversation around the league and knowing what’s out there and what makes sense,” he said. “… If if there’s something we think will help us now and set us up for sustainable success, then we’ll look at it. But I’m excited about the goaltending position, to be honest with you, going into the season.”
“He really believes that we are about to take a step,” he said. “And he’s put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this organization.”
Girgensons, having joined the Sabres in 2013-14, is their longest-tenured player. His 625 games played rank 13th on the team’s all-time list.
“He does so many things that make an impact on our team, on and off the ice,” Adams said. “… He’s so consistent. The guy is so competitive. Everything matters to him. And he cares so much about this organization. And he plays an important role on our team from an on-ice standpoint. He doesn’t cheat the game. Just does a lot of things that help you win hockey games. …
“The person, the leader, the consistency of just his professionalism every day, I think is something that I felt was important, continuing to build moving forward, that our young players will learn from.”
Adams said the Sabres are fine with center prospect Noah Ostlund, the 16th overall pick in 2022, playing another year in his native Sweden.
Earlier this month, Ostlund, 19, joined the Vaxjo Lakers, a Swedish Hockey League team, for the upcoming season.
Ostlund scored eight goals and 26 points in 37 games with Djurgardens, a team in HockeyAllsvenskan, a second-division league, last season. He briefly joined the Rochester Americans following his Swedish season but did not play.
“We were very comfortable if that was the decision,” Adams said of Ostlund staying at home. “We talked to him about potentially coming over this year, this upcoming season and what that could mean. But I do like his progression, playing a year in Allsvenskan, getting a lot of ice time in that league, being a kind of a go-to guy at 18 years old is not easy. Now another progression for him is to step into the SHL.”
Adams said the Sabres have “made it clear” to center Tyson Jost and his agent they want him back for another season.
Jost, 25, can become a restricted free agent July 1.