BUFFALO, N.Y (WIVB) – The Sabres signed a goaltender and a defenseman to two-year deals Wednesday as NHL free agency opened, but their biggest move was re-signing one of their own.
The Sabres and Victor Olofsson agreed to a two-year contract that will pay the two-time 20-goal scorer an average annual value of $4.75 million, the team announced.
The Sabres also added goaltender Eric Comrie on a two-year deal at a $1.8 million average, and defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin for two years at $2.75 million.
Later Wednesday evening, the Sabres announced the signing of three more defensemen to inexpensive one-year deals: Kale Clague, Chase Priskie, and Jeremy Davies.
Comrie, 27, started 16 games for the Jets last season in his most extended NHL action. He posted a .920 save percentage and a 2.58 goals-against average with one shutout. He was a second-round pick in 2013.
Comrie is expected to partner in net with Craig Anderson, who was re-signed in late June. Top goaltending prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen could also be in the mix this season, and the Sabres also have Malcolm Subban in the organization after signing him this week to a two-way contract. Comrie is the brother of former NHLers Mike and Paul Comrie.
“They needed someone to shoot on, so they put me in net,” Eric once said in an interview.
Lyubushkin (pronounced lee-oo-BUHSH-kihn), 28, is a four-year veteran with 25 points in 211 games with Arizona and Toronto. He spent five years in Russia’s KHL before coming to North America.
The team announced the Olofsson deal just before the opening bell of free agency at noon, but Olofsson was a restricted free agent who was given a qualifying offer, so he would not have hit the open market.
Olofsson, who turns 27 next week, has proven to be a legitimate offensive threat since being drafted in the seventh round in 2014. He ranked fourth on the team last season with 20 goals, a milestone he also reached in 2020. His 29 assists last season gave him a career-best 49 points in his third full NHL season.
Olofsson has also become known for his power-play prowess in Buffalo. His 25 power-play goals over the last three season are the most on the Sabres. Only Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner saw more power-play ice time than Olofsson last season. His 5-on-5 play has room for improvement.
The Sabres were moved above the salary cap floor with Wednesday’s deal, according to salary website Cap Friendly. Goaltender was their most glaring need in free agency, though they could stand to add more talent across the board.
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here