Sabres accept arbitration ruling on C Briere

BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) - The Buffalo Sabres had no choice but to increase their payroll Thursday, when they accepted an arbitrator’s award of a one-year, $5 million contract for center Daniel Briere.

Buffalo, which had a payroll of approximately $29 million last season, steadily is approaching the $44 million salary cap for 2006-07. Already committed to more than $35.36 million, the Sabres still must decide whether to accept the one-year, $2.9 million award given to right wing J.P. Dumont on Wednesday as well as re-sign goaltender Ryan Miller and defenseman Dmitri Kalinin.

The team will have its last arbitration hearing Friday with right wing Adam Mair.

A co-captain of the Sabres, Briere receives a considerable raise after making $1.93 million last season, when he recorded 28 goals and 33 assists in just 48 games. He met with an arbitrator on July 20, three days before being awarded the large contract.

The 28-year-old Briere, who was sidelined for a large portion of 2005-06 with a sports hernia, was instrumental in helping the Sabres get within one win of the Stanley Cup Finals, leading the team with 11 assists and 19 points in 18 playoff games.

Drafted 24th overall by Phoenix in 1996, Briere has collected 130 goals and 151 assists in 402 career games with the Coyotes and Sabres.

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Updated Thursday, Aug 3, 2006