NHL Salaries

Buffalo Sabers extend Mattias Samuelsson

The Buffalo Sabers have a busy morning. After announcing an extension for head coach Don Granto, the team has also released details of a seven-year extension for one of its valued students. Mattias Samuelson signed a $30 million extension that will go into effect for the 2023-24 season, bypassing restricted free agency and giving him a cap of $4.29 million.

CapFriendly has the full breakdown:

  • 2023-24: Salary of $2,286,716 + signing bonus of $2.0 million
  • 2024-25: $4,285,716 salary
  • 2026-27: $4,285,716 salary
  • 2027-28: $4,285,716 salary
  • 2028-29: $4,285,716 salary
  • 2029-30: $4,285,716 salary
  • 2030-31: $4,285,716 salary

It’s a complete bet on potential, as the 22-year-old Samuelsson has only 54 games of NHL experience under his belt to date. It was late last year when he paired up so perfectly with Rasmus Dahlin, who really made a deal like this possible. In his last 22 games, Samuelsson has averaged more than 21 minutes per night, recording eight points and a positive +/-.

If he continues his natural progression to a top pairing stop option, a cap like this will quickly look like a bargain, especially if the salary cap rises sharply over the next few seasons.

The risk here is that he maxes out as an intermediate player who doesn’t provide much offense, and the Sabers effectively limited any excess value they might have gotten from his RFA years. With just 12 points in 54 games (zero goals), it’s not like Samuelsson is gearing up for a big umpire deal, and he’s still several years away from an unrestricted free agent.

Of course, there’s also the fact that the Sabers already have a fair amount of headroom and it’s more about locking down a player they like than worrying about dollars and cents. The team currently plans to have more than $32 million in space for next season, even after factoring in extensions for Samuelsson and Tagus Thompson. That number only goes up from there, which means it’s hard to see a situation where they really regret that deal.

Unless Samuelsson falls off a cliff – which certainly doesn’t seem likely after another outstanding training camp – it’s more about rewarding a player he believes in than squeezing every ounce of added value. Now it’s up to him to reward them for that faith with a solid full season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images