With the turning of the calendar from August to September, the attention of many Sabres fans has turned toward the status of the team’s two remaining restricted free agents, Rasmus Riatolainen and Zemgus Girgensons.
Now that number is down to one, as the Sabres announced that they’ve reached an agreement with Girgegnsons on a one-year deal.
The #LatvianLocomotive is back! @zemgus94 signs one-year deal ▶️▶️ https://t.co/RuUCFXNkKG pic.twitter.com/HeF1jeJeDw— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) September 1, 2016
According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the deal is for $1.15 million this year.
With the one-year contract, Girgensons is likely betting on himself to rebound from what was a disappointing season, hoping to regain, or exceed, his more promising 2014-15 form that saw him score 15 goals, more than the seven he scored this year. Should he do that, a bigger pay day will be in store for him, though the Sabres will still control his rights next summer as well.
Here’s what Sabres GM Tim Murray had to say:
"Zemgus has grown into a solid two-way player since beginning his career. We hope to see him continue this positive trend and find a consistent role within the club this season as another young player to grow with our group."
With Girgensons’ deal done, all eyes now turn to Rasmus Ristolainen, who has said he doesn’t expect to see a new offer from the Sabres until after the World Cup. Ristolainen isn’t worried, and neither should any of us worry until we get to camp with the young defenseman still un-signed.
I’m glad the Latvian Locomotive is back with the Sabres, and that’s a very nice price and a deal that’s low-risk for the Sabres while giving Girgensons a chance to prove he’s worth more. We’ll see if he truly is this coming season.