Buffalo Sabres centre Derek Roy turned the best season of his three-year NHL career into a big payday on Friday.
Roy, 24, avoided salary arbitration and agreed to a six-year contract worth $24 million US with the Sabres.
Roy had been scheduled for an arbitration hearing Friday in Toronto. Instead, under the new deal,the Ottawa native will average $4 million per season, a significant jump from the $627,000 he earned last year.
Playing alongside wingers Thomas Vanek and Maxim Afinogenov for most of the 2006-07 season, Roy posted 21 goals and 42 assists for 63 points in 75 games. He also ranked fifth among NHL skaters with a plus-37 rating.
"Derek is a solid young player who will only continue to improve," Sabres GM Darcy Regier said in a statement.
"He will play an increased role for our club, and we look forward to having such a quality player in our organization for many years to come."
Roy, selected in the second round by the Sabres in 2001, is expected to play a bigger role next season in light of the free-agent losses of co-captains Chris Drury (New York Rangers) and Daniel Brière (Philadelphia Flyers).
The signing also comes three weeks after Buffalo was forced to match a seven-year, $50-million contract offer that Edmonton Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe made to Vanek.
Ryder, Avery set for hearings
With Roy signed, the biggest names left on the NHL's arbitration docket are forwards MichaelRyder of the Montreal Canadiens and Sean Avery of theNew York Rangers.
Both players are scheduled to have their casesheard Monday afternoon in Toronto.
Also scheduled for hearing next week are New York Islanders forward Trent Hunter (Wednesday) and Los Angeles Kings forward Mike Cammalleri (Thursday).
Ryder, 27, had 30 goals and28 assistsin 82 games last season — his second consecutive 30-goal campaign—but he was also minus-25. He earned $2.2 million last year and is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.
"We're still talking [with Montreal] and we may meet tomorrow, but at this point in time we're still at the same place we were a week ago," Ryder's agent Thane Campbell said Friday.
Avery, 27, had a career high 48 points (18 goals, 30 assists) last season with Los Angeles and the Rangers while also piling up 174 penalty minutes thanks to his abrasive style. He's looking for a raise over the $1.1 million he made last season.
In other moves Friday:
- Defenceman Milan Jurcina avoidedhis Monday arbitration hearing by signing a two-year deal with the Washington Capitals.TheSlovakian split last season between the Boston Bruins and Capitals, recording four goals and 10 assists in 70 games.
- The Chicago Blackhawks signed three unrestricted free agents: goaltender Wade Flaherty, 39, and defencemen Jim Fahey, 28, and Prestin Ryan, 27. Both Flaherty and Ryan spent last season with the Manitoba Moose, Vancouver's AHL affiliate. Fahey split last season between New Jersey and its AHL team in Lowell, Mass.
- The Carolina Hurricanes signed goaltender Michael Leighton, 27, to a one-year contract that will pay him $550,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 in the AHL. The Hurricanes acquired his rights from Montreal at the entry draft last month in exchange for a seventh-round pick.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenceman Ryan Lannon, 24, to a one-year contract. He played all of last season with Pittsburgh's AHL team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
- The San Jose Sharks signed defenceman Alexei Semenov, 26, to a one-year contract. Semenov had five assists in 23 games with Florida after joining the Panthers from Ufa Salavat Yulayev of the Russian league.