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Sabres' Botterill hopes to sign Lehner in next month, has good talks with Eichel camp

As NHL teams prepare to add new players Saturday in free agency, the Sabres are working to keep two they already have.

Starting goaltender Robin Lehner is a restricted free agent who needs a new deal. Star center Jack Eichel has one year left on his entry-level contract, but he can negotiate an extension starting Saturday.

General Manager Jason Botterill has been busy with the expansion and entry drafts, making trades, hiring coaches and filling out his staff, but he's made it clear to Eichel's agent that the center is important.

"Our conversations over the last month or so with Peter Fish have gone very well," Botterill said Friday. "It’s a situation of understanding we’ve had a lot going on in the organization, but we’ve clearly told Peter we understand how important Jack is to our organization here moving forward.

"When the time is right, I’m sure we’ll be able to get a deal done."

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Botterill said he's had a couple of conversations with Lehner's agent, Craig Oster.

"I’ve spoken to Robin, too," Botterill said. "They understand our position. We’re looking forward to trying to find a way to get a contract done with him and move forward on the season.

"Obviously, it still continues to be a feeling-out process for myself and Robin trying to get to know each other, but we’ve had a good couple conversations, and Craig Oster and I have a very good relationship. We’ve worked on many a deal together, and I certainly have a firm belief that we’ll get something done here over the next month or so."

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