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Sabres sign young defenseman to seven-year deal

Buffalo have locked up Samuelsson for seven years

New York Islanders v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

While it’s important to sign up all your first rounders because they have the best chance of making it to a NHL starting roster, when players from the lower round show that kind of potential it’s equally important to secure their futures as well.

The Buffalo Sabres have a roster littered with top round picks, but one of the players that made a huge jump last season has now been signed up for the long term as well. Mattias Samuelsson had a breakout year in 2021-22 and the Sabres have now handed him a seven-year, $30 million deal that will keep him in Buffalo for a long time.

General Manager Kevyn Adams is in the enviable position of having the most cap space of any of the 32 teams in the league, and will be looking to take advantage of that now while he is able to before a number of blue chip prospects in the stable need to be signed.

Despite having featured in only 54 NHL games, Samuelsson has certainly shown enough in that time to win a spot on the top defensive pair alongside the budding superstar and is fellow countryman Rasmus Dahlin.

Last season he played in 22 games for the Rochester Americans before being elevated to Buffalo, and almost immediately secured his spot in the starting roster, playing 42 times and picking up 10 assists. He is also expected to anchor the second penalty kill unit this season.

In her report card for the dman at the end of the season, Melissa noted -

Mattias Samuelsson is, in part, the future of the Buffalo Sabres’ defense. (Okay, maybe it’s not that bold...)

Samuelsson is arguably one of Buffalo’s top defensive prospects, and we saw glimmers of his development shine throughout the course of the season. He played a big role for the Sabres over the course of this season, and the fact that he’s also a big body physically doesn’t hurt, either.

Adams seemed to be thinking the same way too -

“Mattias Samuelsson, in our mind, is exactly the type of person we want to be here long term. He’s a great teammate, he’s a great hockey player who we believe has the work ethic and character to continue to get better. He plays a style that we don’t have as much. He’s a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defender that’s tough to play against.

“He also has the skill to move the puck and will continue to work on his game to get better. I look at it more as an investment. You have to make these types of decisions as you build your roster and we were comfortable doing that.”

There can be an argument made that the Sabres are slightly overpaying at $4.3 million per year, but if he continues his development as a top four dman then it can be considered well worth it. For reference, some recent comparable long-term contracts signed by defensmen include Pittsburgh’s John Marino (6 years, $4.4m [second pair on the Devils]), Calgary’s Rasmus Andersson (6 years, $4.55m [second pair]) and Boston’s Brandon Carlo (6 years, $4.1m [top pair]), but all were older than Samuelsson when they signed their deals too.

Samuelsson is well liked in the locker room, with Dahlin having this to say about him -

“We don’t talk about him enough. He’s an amazing guy on and off the ice. … It’s super easy to have a guy like that. He plays the right way and (goes) great places with the puck. He’s a guy that you can really trust.

“He’s hilarious and never shuts up. So, it’s amazing to have those guys in the locker room and he’s amazing for us.”

All in all, looks like a good move for the organization going forward.