Tyler Ennis is the latest restricted free agent to get a contract extension just ahead of the lockout, re-signing with the Buffalo Sabres for the next two years at $2.8125M per year.
Ennis makes it easy to scoff at the Sabres' depth up the middle. After all, when a 5'9" left winger that's never had a 50-point season is your first-line centre, you've got problems.
But, in fairness, Nathan Gerbe makes everyone in Buffalo look bigger. And this could be an absolute steal for the Sabres.
Ennis had 34 points in an injury-shortened 44-game campaign last year, but what makes this more impressive is that he did most of his damage after a move to centre midway through the season. By the year's end, he was humming at point per game pace, with 27 points in his final 26 games playing mostly between Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford.
Can he sustain that pace? Absolutely, especially considering the way the seas have parted for him. GM Darcy Regier saw enough in Ennis's play to deem smallish natural centre Derek Roy expendable, shipping him off to Dallas for Steve Ott and Adam Pardy. With Roy gone, Paul Gaustad gone, and Cody Hodgson and Steve Ott the only challengers for the top spot, Ennis will more than likely be promoted and handed first line duties between Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek.
That's a sweet gig. Just ask Alex Burrows how playing with one of the league's best tandems can inflate your numbers.
Ennis is in a perfect position to succeed. He's trending upward, he'll have elite linemates, and Ott will likely be called upon to do a lot of the heavy defensive lifting, leaving the Sabres' top line to focus on scoring.
In short, Ennis's value is about to skyrocket. By the time his entry-level contract is up, he'll be worth far more than $3 million. I've been shaking my head at some of these buzzer-beating extensions, but this one makes all the sense in the world.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney