At least one of the Buffalo Sabres’ pending unrestricted free agents will not hit the open market at noon Friday.
The team announced Friday morning that it signed winger Zemgus Girgensons to a three-year contract extension worth $2.2 million per season. Girgensons scored 12 goals last season while joining forces with Johan Larsson and Kyle Okposo to form one of the top defensive forward lines in the NHL.
Girgensons counted $1.6 million against the salary cap last season. He has played 489 regular-season games with the Sabres since he was drafted 14th overall in 2012. Though Girgensons has not provided the offensive punch that was expected of him early in his career, he’s carved out a niche as an effective checking-line forward.
Girgensons’ heavy presence on the forecheck proved to be a perfect fit for coach Ralph Krueger’s system in 2019-20. According to Evolving-Hockey.com, among all forward lines in the NHL last season, Girgensons, Larsson and Okposo ranked second in limiting an opponent’s shot quality.
Since joining the Sabres in 2013-14, Girgensons ranks second in penalty-kill ice time and hits, and first among all forwards in blocked shots. He appeared to be a candidate to not receive a qualifying offer last July, however, former general manager Jason Botterill’s gamble paid off.
Girgensons posted his highest goal total since he scored 15 during his all-star season in 2014-15. The 26-year-old has totaled 61 goals with 77 assists for 138 points in his career.