The Buffalo Sabres had three key players scheduled for salary arbitration hearings over the next two weeks, but the club took care of business with restricted free agents Sam Reinhart and Linus Ullmark on Sunday, signing the winger to a one-year, $5.2 million contract and the goalie to a one-year, $2.6 million deal.
The 24-year-old Reinhart scored over 20 goals for Buffalo in four of his five NHL seasons and finished second behind Jack Eichel with 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) in 69 games last season. GM Kevyn Adams had over $14 million in available cap space for the upcoming season after signing Taylor Hall to a one-year, $8 million contract earlier this month, and chose to keep his options open by signing the former #2 overall pick to a one-year deal and going to arbitration next summer instead of locking him up a long-term extension.
The Sabres have former #1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin’s entry-level contract expiring next summer and with Eichel and Jeff Skinner taking up $19 million in cap space for the next five seasons, Adams may want some flexibility if Hall becomes interested in staying in Buffalo past next season.
The club and Ullmark came to an agreement the night before his scheduled hearing on Monday. The 27-year-old split time with Carter Hutton last season and had a 17-14-3 record, 2.69 GAA and .915 save percentage in 34 games last season. The $2.6 million cap hit was $800,000 more than the Sabres arbitration filing and well below the $4.1 million salary request made by Ullmark’s representatives, but allows him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
Buffalo currently has over $6.5 million in available cap space. Winger Victor Olofsson (who finished seventh in Calder Trophy voting after scoring 20 goals as a rookie) will have his hearing on November 4th and based on the uncertainty of league revenue due to a potential shortened season due to COVID-19, it is likely that the Sabres will opt for another short-term deal.