BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Sabres general manager Tim Murray wasn't kidding about how much he wanted center Tyler Ennis to be part of Buffalo's long-term future.
A person familiar with the agreement confirmed to The Associated Press early Thursday that the Sabres have reached a deal to re-sign Ennis to a five-year contract worth about $23 million. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Sabres haven't announced the deal.
The NHL Network first reported the agreement on Wednesday.
Ennis was a restricted free agent after the Sabres retained his rights by tendering him a contract offer last month.
He is a speedy, play-making forward who led the Sabres with a career-best 21 goals and added 22 assists in 80 games last season.
Last month, Murray spoke highly of how he foresaw Ennis being part of his rebuilding plan in Buffalo. The Sabres (21-51-10) finished last, set a franchise record for losses, and established a post-NHL-expansion-era low by scoring just 150 goals last season.
''I like his approach to the game. I like his compete level. I like his speed,'' Murray said. ''There's a lot of things I like about him, and if we can do a long-term deal with him, then obviously the decision we've made is we'd go forward with him.''
Ennis was the second of Buffalo's two 2008 first-round draft picks. He is a two-time 20-goal scorer and, overall, has 69 goals and 97 assists in 267 career games over four-plus seasons with the Sabres.
Murray has already been busy restocking the Sabres this summer.
Buffalo made a splash in free agency by signing forwards Matt Moulson and Brian Gionta and defensemen Josh Gorges and Andrej Meszaros. Center Sam Reinhart, selected with the No. 2 pick in the draft last month, will also have a shot at making the team this season.