Larsson played 39 games for the Sabres last season, scoring six goals and 10 assists.
He had a solid year in limited time for Buffalo, despite having aired some frustrations with coach Ted Nolan publicly last season after being reassigned to the Rochester Americans. It was maybe because of that frustration that he exploded at the end of the season, scoring 14 points in the season’s final 19 games.
He also posted some strong possession numbers, with a 5.1% score-adjusted CF%Rel last season and a 4.8% mark the season before through 28 games. Over those final 19 games where he played so strong, he posted a 6.4% score-adjusted CF%Rel. Though, all things with a grain of salt concerning the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres: The team had a 35.8% score-adjusted CF% with Larsson off the ice in those 19 games.
Maybe even more impressive over that 19-game span is Larsson’s 11.4% scoring chances for relative (SCF%Rel). His high danger scoring chances relative looks even better (though we are progressively shrinking the sample size from shot attempts here) at 16.1%.
These numbers are a great sign for Larsson and the team. They show a lot of promise. But a 19-game sample is just that, what happened in slightly less than a quarter of the season. That’s why this is a one-year deal at $800K.
Larsson has a prove-it situation on his hands. When the deal expires he’ll still be a restricted free agent, but if he can show that he’s the player he was in the season’s final 19 games, he’ll be in line for a serious raise. The new contract is slightly more than he was making in salary on his entry-level deal, but less overall when you take into account signing and performance bonuses, according to General Fanager.
Larsson was acquired by the Sabres in the 2013 trade deadline deal that sent Jason Pominville to Minnesota and brought back Larsson, goaltender Matt Hackett, a 1st round pick in 2013 (Nikita Zadorov) and 2nd round pick in 2014 (Vaclav Karabacek).
In other Buffalo signings, defenseman Jerome Leduc, goaltender Nathan Lieuwen, and forward Tim Schaller all signed their qualifying offers with the team on Thursday.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.