Sabres superstar looking to follow in Matthews' footsteps; two sides at odds over how to handle term

Dean Chaudhry
September 16, 2023  (12:47)

The Buffalo Sabres have been languishing at or near the bottom of both the Atlantic Division and the NHL standings for well over a decade. Things may be turning around for the Sabres, however, as they made things interesting in 2022-23 and were in the thick of a playoff race until the final week of the season.

A big part of their revival is defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who scored 15 goals and 73 points in 78 games. Dahlin was a plus-12, and averaged a whopping 25:48 ATOI last season as well. Over his 5-year career, he has put up 233 points in just 355 games, but even with how dynamic he has been, the Sabres are still not willing to negotiate on his terms and have no reportedly upset Dahlin and his camp.
The Swedish defenseman is looking for a 5-year pact in the $10.5M range while the Sabres want the maximum 8-year deal if they go that high on Dahlin's AAV. A former NHL instigator, Andrew Peters, also said that Dahlin is not happy that the deal has yet to be completed with the new season now less than a month away and having just one year remaining on his current deal.
Dahlin is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season and will be eligible for offer sheets and arbitration. The Sabres have plenty of cap space available, while possessing some star talent, but none bigger than Tage Thompson and Dahlin himself. From an outside opinion, right now might not be the best time to upset your cornerstone defenseman.
It might be because Auston Matthews has become a modern day pioneer, blazing a trail for young superstars to get the most out of their contracts, with the opportunity to cash in at least one more time down the road. Matthews did it coming out of his ELC (5 years) and he did it again this summer (4 years) in a league that loves to hand out 8-year max deals to their superstars/cornerstones.
The rising salary cap is huge for NHL players as they had to deal with a stagnant cap since the 2020-21 season. With the possibility of it jumping up by $9M-$10M in just the next 2 seasons, it's time that the best players in the NHL get paid what they deserve, even if it's with less term than most anticipated. This would explain all the short-term or bridge deals we have seen completed in recent years as players - and agents - are keeping their focus on the projected cap numbers as they begin to trend upward.
The Atlantic Division up-and-comers can't afford to lose another top-end talent in Buffalo after already having lost Jack Eichel. Following in Matthews' footsteps is going to be a trend that several players adopt over the coming seasons and Buffalo might just have to bite the bullet as players like Dahlin don't grow on trees.
Sabres superstar looking to follow in Matthews' footsteps; two sides at odds over how to handle term

Will the Sabres end up caving and giving Rasmus Dahlin a 5-year deal?

Yes, otherwise he'll sign an offer sheet2055.6 %
No, they'll go 6 or 7 years719.4 %
No, they'll get the full 8 years out of him513.9 %
They're going to lose him one way or another411.1 %
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