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Sabres GM: Extension talks for Dahlin, Power intensifying

Bill Wippert / National Hockey League / Getty

Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams is still hoping to sign his two franchise pillar defensemen to long-term extensions before the 2023-24 season gets underway.

The sides appear closer to agreements, as Adams said that discussions have become "intense" over the last week, according to the Buffalo News' Lance Lysowski.

"The key takeaways are that I've explained to their camps and to them individually how important they are to this franchise and how we feel about them, and we want them here long term and just that kind of conversation," Adams said.

"They've clearly indicated to me and to us that this is where they want to be, and they believe in this team, and they believe in the direction we're headed. So, that's the start, and then you work from there. These are not easy to get done. They're critically important for both sides, and we need to ensure they're right. It needs to be right for both sides."

Dahlin, drafted first overall by the Sabres in 2018, is coming off a breakout season in which he finished eighth in Norris Trophy voting after racking up 15 goals and 73 points in 78 games. The 23-year-old has one more year left on his current contract with a $6-million cap hit. Dahlin could hypothetically become an unrestricted free agent in 2025.

An extension for Dahlin will likely make him one of the game's highest-paid blue-liners. Evolving-Hockey projects an extension costing the Sabres $10.46 million per season over eight years.

Power, 20, is in a bit of a different situation since he's younger and far less experienced. The 2021 first overall pick finished third in Calder Trophy voting last season after producing 35 points in 79 games.

Evolving-Hockey projects Power getting a three-year extension with a $5.12-million cap hit. However, if the Sabres want to sign him for longer, the market was set by Ottawa Senators defenseman Jake Sanderson, who recently signed an eight-year deal with a $8.05-million cap hit. Power and Sanderson share similar pedigree, production, and experience.

"(Dahlin and Power are) both to me critically important pieces of the puzzle moving forward," Adams said. "And they're guys that can play 25-plus minutes, every situation. And I just think the way the league is right now, if you can really have defensemen like that, that can play the minutes they play in the situations they play, the way the transition game and speed of the game is going, I just think it's critical."

The Sabres have $46 million in projected cap space for next season, giving them ample flexibility to get extensions done.

Adams said he plans to keep grinding away until pen is put to paper, even if it carries over into the season.

"I'm not drawing a line in the sand, but I'd like to keep pushing here through training camp to move things along," he said.

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