The Buffalo Sabres have one more major move coming this summer, at least that we know about, and that's the re-signing of RFA Tyler Ennis. But even after months of waiting, there's been little talk of what that new contract might look like.
Yesterday, the Carolina Hurricanes signed one of their promising young players, Jeff Skinner, to a six-year extension. Skinner, like Ennis, is a young center with potential who just finished up his second year in the NHL. His new contract may help us shed some light on what to expect out of Ennis' new deal.
Skinner's contract is a six-year extension with a $5.725 million cap hit. That's quite a big number for someone coming off a down season, as he is, but it's an indication of how much the Hurricanes value him as part of their future. But how does Skinner's production compare to Ennis? They're both undersized centers entering their third NHL season, and while Ennis has never scored 30 goals in a season like Skinner has, their point production isn't too far apart; Skinner has averaged 60 points per 82 games while Ennis sits at 54 points per 82.
At this point, Skinner has had the more successful career, but if the Sabres brass is looking at pure potential, it's hard to ignore the torrid second half Ennis had last season. After an abysmal first half marred by injuries, Tyler 2 came on to score 29 points in his final 32 games from February-April.
Clearly that kind of production over the course of 82 games would be worth a big cap hit like Skinner's, but at this point it remains to be seen whether or not Ennis can keep that up. Sabres GM Darcy Regier has stated that he thinks Ennis' deal will likely be a shorter one, but after seeing the money that other promising young centers are getting this offseason, a new contract for Ennis might be a bit more expensive than the Sabres planned.