The Buffalo News reporter Lance Lysowski reported today that Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams has expressed to the agents of Owen Power and Rasmus Dahlin that the team would like to sign both defensemen long term. The Sabres have been aggressive in locking up their young core to long term deals and this development would keep in line with that gameplan. Both players have a year left on their current contracts and would be restricted free agents in 2024, albeit with much different degrees of bargaining power.
Dahlin will be completing a three-year bridge contract and since his contract was backloaded, he will carry a qualifying offer of $7.2MM. The former first overall pick could simply accept the one-year deal and march into unrestricted free agency in summer 2025. Power on the other hand will have just completed his two-year entry-level contract and would only be due a qualifying offer just under $875K. He would also be ineligible for an offer sheet since he wouldn’t have enough service time to qualify as a Group 2 RFA. This could make for an interesting negotiation and keep the average annual value down.
Dahlin is coming off a career season in which he put up 15 goals and 58 assists in 78 games. He teased his offensive prowess in recent seasons but this season he was finally able to breakthrough and produce like an elite offensive defenseman. The 23-year-old Swede, along with Power led a defensive unit that backed the Sabres to their highest point total since 2010-11, the last time the club made the playoffs.
Power on the other hand just completed his first full NHL season and ranked second in 5-on-5 ice time per game played (19:46) among all NHL skaters. On the offensive side, Power had four goals and 31 assists in 79 games and helped spark the Sabres second defensive pairing. He played a little over half of the powerplay time that Dahlin played and only managed eight assists on the man advantage. Should Power see more time on the powerplay, he could see a large uptick on his point totals.
While there is an element of risk in any extension the Sabres have not shied away from taking the plunge. When Buffalo signed Tage Thompson to a seven year $50MM contract extension last August many felt that they had rushed to judgment and could end up with a bloated overpay. However, Thompson followed up his new contract with a second straight career year, finishing with 94 points in 78 games. One could make a similar argument for Power who has played just a single full NHL season, however in the case of Dahlin, he has demonstrated a half decade of impressive play and appears to only be getting better.