By Mike Harrington
Tyler Ennis' agent said negotiations with the Sabres went well, with both sides coming to a fair agreement on the 24-year-old's value in Buffalo's rebuilding plan. Eustace King said Ennis made it clear to the team he wanted to be a part of their solution, and that General Manager Tim Murray made it clear they wanted Ennis as well. From there, it was just a meeting of the minds until the five-year, $23-million deal was agreed upon and announced today.
"I believe that Tyler's challenge has been that he's an undersized guy his whole career but he's overcome that obstacle," King said by phone from Los Angeles. "I think Tyler is going to be like some of the smaller guys that have gone through the Buffalo Sabres over the years and gone on to great careers in the NHL. I clearly believe we haven't scratched the surface yet to what Tyler can be."
The Sabres confirmed that Ennis had signed a multi-year deal earlier today but, as per team policy, did not reveal the teams. Murray was unavailable for comment today and will speak on Ennis' deal in his post-development camp session with reporters on Friday.
King said this contract comes in the prime of Ennis' career and that he expects his client to have peak production at ages 27-28.
"Many guys have hit that mark and exploded," he said. "I truly expect Tyler to do the same type of stuff. When Tyler has played with top players, he's always fostered a mutually beneficial relationship between those guys. I expect Tyler to be a 25-30-goal scorer in the National Hockey League without a doubt. I also expect him to be a 70-plus point guy in the National Hockey League.
"Those are high expectations. He has them for himself and if you look at his history there are enough indicators from his past, from juniors, from world juniors, from the American League that he can reach them."
King said he and Ennis share the view that the Sabres can engender a quick turnaround in the vein the Colorado Avalanche did last season, in the wake of the draft and the team's foray into free agency.
"We do believe that this rebuild in Buffalo is going to be a lot faster than people anticipate," he said. "They have a lot of character players that want to play and have pride in winning that are in that lineup now Some of the young players have great motivation because they want to leave a legacy for themselves.
"You continue to add a few more pieces and you're going to have a team in 4-5 years where a lot of people are going to say, 'Boy, they're real contenders.' "