Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams can cross the name of one of his restricted free agents off his blue and gold legal pad this evening.
Adams has wisely signed versatile forward Curtis Lazar to a two-year contract with an AAV of $800K.
Lazar was signed last summer as a free agent by former GM Jason Botterill
“Curtis established himself as an important player for the organization last season and we’re excited to see him stay with the Sabres for the next two seasons. His abilities as a player and character as a person make him a perfect fit for the Buffalo Sabres organization on and off the ice, Kevyn Adams said.”
Lazar, 25, who was the 18th overall pick (2013) of the Ottawa Senators, earned the trust of his shead coach Ralph Kreuger after making his Buffalo Sabres debut in 2019-20. Lazar, who plays center and wing with aplumb, had a career setting career-high by winning 51.3% of his draws. Lazar scored 5 goals anad 5 asssits in 38 games and had a career-best 15.2 shooting percentage (33 shots on goal).
Lazar is a complete 200-foot, forward who is as effective at even strength as he is on the oenalty kill. Lazar's added value is that he can play a leadership role on lines 2,3 and 4.
Lazar also played 18 games for the Rochester Amerks in 2019-20, leading the team in points per game (.78) and ranking third with a +10 rating.
As a junior, the Salmon Ar, B.C. native won two Western Hockey League Championships and a Memorial Cup as the captain of the Edmonton Oil Kings before wearung the "C" for Team Canada's gold medal winning team at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he tied for the tournament lead in goals.
2015 Team Canada WJC Gold Medal Winning Team
Lawson Crouse (Kingston Frontenacs)
Max Domi (London Knights)
Anthony Duclair (New York Rangers / Quebec Remparts)
Robby Fabbri (Guelph Storm)
Frederik Gauthier (Rimouski Oceanic)
"C"- Curtis Lazar (Ottawa Senators / Edmonton Oil Kings)
Connor McDavid (Erie Otters)
Nick Paul (North Bay Battalion)
Nic Petan (Portland Winterhawks)
Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Sam Reinhart (Kootenay Ice)
Nick Ritchie (Peterborough Petes)
Jake Virtanen (Calgary Hitmen)
Madison Bowey (Kelowna Rockets)
Dillon Heatherington (Swift Current Broncos)
Joe Hicketts (Victoria Royals)
Samuel Morin (Rimouski Oceanic)
Josh Morrissey (Kelowna Rockets)
Darnell Nurse (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Shea Theodore (Seattle Thunderbirds)
Eric Comrie (Tri-City Americans)
Zachary Fucale (Quebec Remparts)
With Lazar signed for two more seasons, Adams now has to focus his attention on eating his Advil and getting serious about re-signing his other resricted free agents Samson Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Dominik Kahun, Tage Thompson, Brandon Montour, Lawrence Pilut, and Linus Ullmark.
While inkiing Kahun, Thompson, Pilut and Ullmark to their qualifying offers, doing business with Reinhart, Olofsson and Montour is going to cost Adams and the pegulas some serios coin.
Reinhart, Olofsson and Montour are going to take huge bites out of the $33 million in salary cap spacethe Sabres have available for next season.
Re-signing Reinhart will not be easy for Adams. Reinhart has more than paid for himself by developing all aspects of his game.
After out-performing his last two bridge contracts, Reinhart is applying his leverage for a long term contract extension of 6-7 seasons at $6.5 million annual average value. In 69 games played last season before the COVID19 pandemic ended the season abruptly on March 12, Reinhart tied his career high of 50 points by scoring 22 goals and 28 assists. He would have easily set career highs for points and goals (25) had the 82-game regular season been played to its entirety.
Olofsson, 25, was just named to the NHL All-Rookie Team after scoring 20 goals and 22 assist in 54 games. Olofsson would have scored 25+ goals had his freashamn season not been interrupted by a lower body injury.
Olofsson may sign a three-year bridge deal, however, it will likely be rated in the $4M to $4.25M AAV neighborhood.
Montour, 26, just finished out his stwo-year, $6,775,000 bridge contract that he signed while playing with the Anaheim Ducks.
Montour is in hot demand as he is a competent, efficient , mobile right-shot puck mover who loves to jump and join the rush. Re-signing Montour will cost Adams a pretty penny considering his $3,387,500 annual average value made him a value contract player. At what cost Montour? I see Montour signing for three years and $4.5 million annual average value.
The Buffalo D corps boasts of righties Montour, Rasmus Ristolainen, Henri Jokiharju, and Colin Miller.
I see a scenario where Adams trades Miller and a forward in exchange for a top six forward who can play the center anad wing roles. Max Domi, Rickard Rakell, Tomas Hertl, and Derek Stepan are being considered by the Sabres,