Potentially looking for another home run signing like the one the organization made with Tage Thompson, the Buffalo Sabres have signed Dylan Cozens to a seven-year contract extension worth an annual average salary of $7.1 million per season. Now 22 years old, Cozens has 17 goals and 43 points in 49 games this season. He had 13 goals and 38 points in 79 games last season and the Sabres are hoping he’s trending upwards and the team is locking him in at a value deal ahead of him really breaking out.
He joins Thompson and Mattias Samuelsson as players on the roster to sign long-term extensions in the last six months and the Sabres can only hope Cozens turns out to be as good as it looks like Thompson will be when compared to the contract extension he signed.
For Cozens, this is a fair-value deal based solely on the numbers he’s putting up now. But, if he trends in the right direction, this could be a steal. Year 1 includes a $5.1 million salary with a $2 million signing bonus. Years two through seven do not include bonuses, just his $7.1 million salary. The deal buys Buffalo one year of restricted free agency, 3 years of RFA arbitration years, and three years of unrestricted free agency.
Cozens is a legit, young second-line forward whose development makes this signing look like it could be another smart gamble. GM Kevyn Adams and his staff are getting a ton of love for the work they’ve done with this Sabres group since taking over. He’s identifying key pieces of his young core, projecting where they’ll be and not waiting to lock them in.
This is all ahead of what projects to be a big jump in the salary cap over the next few seasons. If the Sabres are right, these deals allow them to keep their core and have additional funds to add pieces around them at the NHL Trade Deadline or in free agency. That could start this season as the Sabres are right in the playoff conversation and could be buyers this year.
There are some fans reacting on social media, suggesting this is an overpay. Remember, that’s the same thing many fans said when Thompson was locked up to his deal. Thompson has more than made those people eat their words. Cozens has the chance to do the same thing.
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