The Buffalo Sabres have tidied up some restricted free agent business, signing Rasmus Asplund to a two-year contract. The deal will carry an average annual value of $825K. The team has also announced a one-year $750K contract for free agent forward Ryan MacInnis. The 25-year-old qualified for Group VI unrestricted free agency this year.
Asplund, 23, was actually one of the forwards that the Sabres protected from the Seattle Kraken in the recent expansion draft despite having just 57 games under his belt at the NHL level. That number is likely to increase quite a bit this year as he competes for a full-time role, though it remains to be seen if the young forward can continue to produce at the highest level. Selected 33rd overall in 2016, he scored seven goals and 11 points in 28 games this season after spending time in Sweden at the start of the year.
While he may not have much experience yet, Asplund is obviously well-liked by the Sabres front office and a two-year deal gives them the potential of plenty of excess value. If he is given a full-time role and breaks out, they have him locked up at a low-cost next year instead of dealing with arbitration. Even if he struggles, the entire cap hit can be buried in the minor leagues (though he would have to clear waivers for that to happen).
For MacInnis, Buffalo represents a fresh start and a chance at NHL minutes. In 16 games this season for the Blue Jackets, he failed to register a point, and now is still looking for his first NHL goal after 26 games. Son of legendary defenseman Al MacInnis, 6’4″ forward has never lived up to his second-round draft pedigree, struggling to even make much of an impact at the minor league level. Still, his size and defensive polish have given him a handful of NHL contests and could result in even more time on a rebuilding Buffalo squad.