As reported by John Vogl earlier today, the Sabres have officially announced a seven-year contract extension for newly acquired center Ryan O'Reilly. And as most people figured when the trade with Colorado was finalized last Friday, it's a whopper of a deal.
Multiple sources say O'Reilly's total package is for $52.5 million -- which makes it the largest contract in franchise history. The previous high was the seven-year, $50-million deal that Thomas Vanek earned in 2007 but that was formalized as a match to an offer sheet by the Edmonton Oilers.
O'Reilly will make $6 million for the upcoming season and his extension kicks in for the 2016-17 season with a $7.5 million cap hit and a highly unusual structure.
According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, O'Reilly's salary is going to be $1 million per season and all the rest of his money will be paid in signing bonuses.
O'Reilly will get $10 million in 2016-17, $8 million in 2017-18, $7.5 million in 2018-19 and $5 million for each of his final four seasons. The deal runs through the 2022-23 season, when O'Reilly will be 32 years old.
The unusual deal apparently allows O'Reilly to skirt around high escrow payments. Players has about 14 percent of their base salaries withheld in escrow this past season until the league's final revenue numbers were released.
It also is pretty much a buyout-proof deal. Even if the Sabres opted at some point to terminate the deal, as they did this week with Cody Hodgson, O'Reilly would collect his bonuses while the Sabres would only be able to buy out one-third of the $1 million per year salaries.
5 p.m. update: The Sabres have issued the following statement from General Manager Tim Murray: "We’re happy to have Ryan locked up to a long-term deal. It’s not easy to find a player who, at his age, is already established in the league as someone who plays a complete game and makes his teammates better. When we acquired him, we viewed him as someone who could immediately improve our roster but was still young enough to make an impact for several years to come, and this contract reflects that belief.”