The Buffalo Sabres have locked up two of their key defensemen long-term through at least 2031.
Rasmus Dahlin was rewarded with a highly anticipated eight-year, $88 million extension that will begin in the 2024-25 season and will carry onto 2032, with a full no-movement clause for the last seven years of the deal. His $11 million cap hit is tied with Drew Doughty for the second-highest cap hit among defensemen in the league, only trailing Erik Karlsson and his $11.5 million price tag.
Owen Power’s extension is seven years at an $8.35 million cap hit for $58.45 million total, also beginning in the 2024-25 season, though he is due a $2 million signing bonus when the contract begins next summer. He is eligible for trade protection in just the final two years of the deal, where he will have a five-team no-trade list.
Dahlin Stays After Career Year in Buffalo
While it is a steep price to pay for keeping Dahlin’s services, the difference between the contracts from Doughty and Karlsson and the one from Dahlin is that Doughty and Karlsson are being paid for past performances, while Dahlin is being kept for his entire prime. He had 15 goals and 58 assists for 73 points in 78 games, 5th among defensemen in scoring, while averaging 25:48 of ice time. Defensively he was second on the team in hits and led them in blocked shots, showing his improved defensive capabilities.
There will be skeptics pointing to this contract and call it an overpay, and it may be a steep price at first glance. The closest that Dahlin was to a contract comparable was Charlie McAvoy and his eight-year, $76 million deal signed in October 2021. It was a massive bargain then, but that contract was signed at a time when the offensive upside of both players was unknown. Before that deal, McAvoy never had more than 32 points when he signed his extension. Dahlin is at a different level, as he was averaging over 40 points and is becoming a defensive stalwart.
The importance is to understand this contract. While Jake Sanderson, who was coming off his rookie season, signed an eight-year, $64 million extension, Dahlin has already played five years in the league. Dahlin’s contract is also buying out more unrestricted free agent seasons, which usually cost more than restricted free agents.
Not One, But Two Former No. 1 Overall Defensemen Locked Up
Power is getting a significant long-term commitment for a defenseman with just one full NHL season on their track. This is a similar contract to the Sanderson one, though this new trend is one where general managers quickly sign their young defensemen to long-term deals.
Power finished the 2022-23 season third in the Calder Trophy voting behind Stuart Skinner and former University of Michigan teammate Matty Beniers, racking up 35 points in 79 games, with solid possession metrics, showing room for improvement defensively but with elite play-driving skills. The numbers are impressive with the role he made for himself, playing 23:48 per game despite being on the second pair, 5th all-time among defenders in their rookie season and the highest since Drew Doughty averaged 23:50 for the Kings in 2008-09.
He gets a direct path to unrestricted free agency after only his rookie season, buying out two UFA seasons. Once again, he will be projected to reprise the role of the left-shot defenseman on the second pairing next to Henri Jokiharju.
Written by Alec Nava
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