The Sabres have taken care of one of their pending restricted free agents, announcing (Twitter link) that they’ve re-signed defenseman Jacob Bryson to a two-year contract. The deal will carry a $1.85MM AAV with PuckPedia adding (Twitter link) that the deal will pay $1.8MM in 2022-23 and $1.9MM in 2023-24.
The 24-year-old was a fourth-round pick of Buffalo (99th overall) back in 2017 and a strong showing in the second half of the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 campaign helped propel him into a regular role for this past season. Bryson suited up in 73 games, picking up a goal and nine assists along with 73 hits while averaging 18:20 per game, good for fourth among full-time Sabres blueliners.
This contract effectively works as a second bridge deal for Bryson. He had salary arbitration eligibility this summer but the two-year term will still have him RFA-eligible with arbitration rights at its conclusion and a required qualifier of $1.9MM. Now that Bryson has established himself as an NHL regular, this pact will give him an opportunity to play his way into a bigger role; with Colin Miller expected to depart in free agency this summer, Bryson could be in line for a bit more playing time next season although 2021 top pick Owen Power will also be in the mix on the back end.
With this contract done, winger Victor Olofsson is the only full-time Sabre that’s still eligible for restricted free agency. He’s owed a $3.25MM qualifying offer by Monday’s tender deadline and the 26-year-old is also arbitration-eligible. Accordingly, GM Kevyn Adams will be looking to get that deal in place as soon as possible to try to avoid giving Olofsson a chance to file for a hearing.
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