Tyler Ennis will earn $23 million over five years. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres GM Tim Murray on long-term Tyler Ennis deal: ‘It certainly wasn’t straightforward’

BUFFALO – If the Sabres couldn’t sign Tyler Ennis to a long-term deal, they would’ve given the slick center a one-year qualifying offer, general manager Tim Murray said this afternoon.

Ennis, a restricted free agent, inked a five-year, $23 million contract Thursday.

“It certainly wasn’t straightforward,” Murray said about getting the deal done.

Still, Murray believes “both sides were on the same page.”

“It was just how you got there,” he said inside the First Niagara Center.

Ennis just finished a two-year contract.

Right now, Ennis, whose 21 goals topped the Sabres, is the No. 1 center, at least on paper. That could change, Murray said.

“Is he a center? Is he a winger?” Murray said. “We talked about that with his agent and where he fits. He fits somewhere on this team. I have to look down the road and when I feel we’re going to be a competitive team. Is he the No. 1 center on that team? He may not be. He may be this year and next year he may be a No. 2 left winger.

“It depends on what we bring in here. That’s going to dictate where he fits.”

Ennis fits in well with just a $4.6 million cap hit. The 24-year-old will get $7.3 million in 2014-15, $4.75 million in 2015-16 and $3.65 million in the final three seasons, according to capgeek.com.

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