Per the NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes, the Buffalo Sabres have re-signed Tyler Ennis to a 5-year contract that will net the speedy center a cool $23 Million. Considering what Ennis has shown during his NHL tenure, that seems like a fair deal for both player and team. However the move can’t help but raise speculation on the future of Ennis’s teammate Cody Hodgson in Buffalo.
Aside from their height, (Hodgson’s 3 inches taller) they’re very similar players. The two former 1st round draft picks are four months apart in age, and are both signed with the Sabres for at least five more years apiece.
Ennis is faster and has 45 more points than Hodgson but, to be fair, he’s also played in 56 more games. Hodgson led the Sabres in total points last season, finishing with one more than than…Tyler Ennis.
Also, it’s a good bet that Mars will be colonized long before either Ennis or Hodgson win a Selke trophy. But defense isn’t really their game and the Sabres know it.
So what Buffalo now has is essentially two players who are, in many though not all, respects, mirror images of each other. They also have a bevy of highly-touted young center/forward prospects in the system, and that’s not counting the three (3) 1st round picks they own in the 2015 NHL Draft. (Theirs, the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues.)
It’s not easy to see where they have the roster space to keep both of them in the blue and gold.
However, since Hodgson’s long-term deal was signed with the deposed management team while Ennis signed his with the current one, it is easy to see which one Sabres’ GM Tim Murray likely intends to keep.
Buffalo has never been far from the Evander Kane trade rumors, so perhaps Winnipeg offers Murray his best solution. While it’s been speculated that such a deal would include rear guard Tyler Myers, there’s nothing that states transactions can’t be tweaked. The Sabres have several promising defensemen in their system as well. Maybe they’d package one of them.
And if not the Jets, then surely there are several other teams that would be thrilled to acquire a young Top 6 forward who’s already signed for several years at a reasonable salary cap number.
I’m no psychic, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Hodgson’s calling some other NHL city home long before his current contract with Buffalo expires.
That may very well be the best thing for both Hodgson and the Sabres. And with the new Ennis contract now done, all signs seem to be pointing in that direction.
As always, time will tell.