Johan Larsson spent seven seasons with the Sabres. ©2020, Micheline Veluvolu

Reports: Former Sabre Johan Larsson signs two-year contract with Coyotes

Former Buffalo Sabres center Johan Larsson is going to take a paycut to join the Arizona Coyotes.

Larsson’s new two-year contract carries an average annual value of $1.4 million, according to Sportsnet. He had a one-year deal worth $1.55 million last season.

ArizonaCoyotesInsider.com first reported Larsson was close to joining the Coyotes as a free agent.

Larsson, 28, spent seven years in Buffalo, compiling 38 goals and 97 points in 392 games. The Swede was one of three players left from the Sabres’ 2013-14 tank team.

Winger Zemgus Girgensons and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen are now the longest-tenured Sabres.

Larsson enjoyed perhaps his best NHL season in 2019-20. The tenacious Swede entrenched himself between Girgensons and Kyle Okposo early in campaign, helping the trio morph into one of the league’s best checking lines.

After two poor seasons – his ghastly minus-30 rating in 2017-18 drew the ire of fans – he thrived under Ralph Krueger, the Sabres’ fifth coach since his arrival in 2013.

Larsson compiled a career-high plus-8 rating and generated a Corsi For – the percentage of shot attempts by his team while he’s on the ice five-on-five – of 50.3%, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. Embracing his role helped him emerge as one of the Sabres’ most reliable forwards and penalty killers.

A strong argument can be made the Sabres should’ve re-signed Larsson. They’ve rewarded other players over the past week..

Girgensons, 26, signed a three-year contract with an average annual value of $2.2 million – a $600,000 yearly raise – on Friday. They also awarded Tage Thompson a three-year deal with an average annual value of $1.3 million on Tuesday.

Thompson, 22, scored seven goals in 65 NHL contests 2018-19, his only full campaign. He started last year in the AHL before suffering a season-ending right shoulder injury in his NHL season debut Nov. 17.

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