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SABRES SWEETEN OFFER TO PECA: FOUR-YEAR DEAL WORTH $6 MILLION

Apparently trying for a breakthrough in the contract talks with center Michael Peca, the Buffalo Sabres have offered last season's Selke Award winner a four-year contract worth $6 million.

"What we have on the table right now would effectively make Michael Peca our highest-paid forward," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said Wednesday night. "We want him playing here, we want him playing for the Buffalo Sabres at the end of the day. That is the objective."

Peca's agent, Anton Thun, had not replied to the proposal as of Wednesday night, Regier said.

The offer was presented by Kevin Billet, the team's vice president for business and legal affairs.

On Tuesday, Thun said Peca would play with the Canadian National team if he did not reach agreement on a new contract by next Monday.

The team's previous offer had been two years at $2.4 million.

Whether or not the threat caused the Sabres to improve their offer, Regier admitted that the team made a new proposal Wednesday.

"Obviously, we moved up a little bit as far as the number of years, but I think it's also a commitment from the organization to say to Michael Peca, 'we want you here with the Buffalo Sabres, to be a Buffalo Sabre for a number of years.' "

Regier termed the contract offer "a very good, fair, solid offer."

He added that as of now it was an unstructured proposal as to payout terms and how it would break down in annual salary.

Last week, Thun faxed the team a letter requesting that Peca be traded.

"We have no intention of trading Michael," Regier said.

The trade request and threat to play for the Canadian team may be negotiating ploys, but Regier said he was taking such talk seriously.

"I have no doubt he means what he says," Regier said.

"But," he added, "I also try to make sure it doesn't unduly influence us to make decisions that aren't good for the organization."

Regier said a concern of team management would be how a new contract for Peca would affect the team's salary structure next year, when seven or eight player contracts come up for renewal.

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