BUFFALO (LGS) — The Buffalo Sabres avoided arbitration for the second time this offseason by inking defenseman Nathan Paetsch to a three-year deal worth $2.55 million.
The two sides were expected to meet this Thursday in front of a NHL arbitrator in Toronto.
The 24-year-old was considered Buffalo's seventh-defenseman last season but did manage to play in 63 games during the regular-season because of various injuries that plagued the Sabres' starting six blueliners.
Paetsch finished his rookie season with two goals and 22 assists to go along with a +10 rating. He did not appear in any of the Sabres' 16 playoff games.
The LeRoy, Saskatchewan native was drafted by the Sabres in the seventh-round (202nd overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft; however, the versatile defenseman was originally drafted into the NHL by the Washington Capitals during the second round (58th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
In spite of his solid play at the junior level, the Capitals declined to offer Paetsch a professional contract making him re-eligible for the 2003 NHL Draft.
"It hasn't been a paved road for me, that's for sure," Paetsch told Tim Graham of The Buffalo News Monday night. "To have a three-year NHL contract and solidify myself as an NHL player, I'm ecstatic."
Paetsch will receive $700,000 in season one, $800,000 in season two and $1,050,000 in season three of this new contract.
The Sabres had two arbitration hearings scheduled this offseason but General Manager Darcy Regier made sure to avoid both.
Buffalo also avoided arbitration this past Friday by signing center Derek Roy to a six-year, $24 million deal. Roy will receive $3.0 million this season, $3.5 million in seasons two and three, and $4.0 million, $4.5 million and $5.5 million in seasons four, five and six respectively.
The Sabres now have $4,169,410 cap dollars remaining before reaching the NHL Upper Cap Limit of $50.3 million.
Paetsch was the last remaining unsigned Sabre from last season. Minor leaguer Mikko Lehtonen — who was the only other Sabres' property that remained unsigned — decided to move back to Europe to play for Kärpät in the Finnish hockey league SM-liiga.