BUFFALO, N.Y. - Patrick Kaleta eliminated the uncertainty of an NHL arbitration hearing by signing a two-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.
"I was never a big fan of arbitration, going in there and pleading cases," Kaleta said. "So I'm happy to get it over and done with and not have to worry about it."
Financial terms were not immediately available, but Kaleta was expected to earn a raise over the US$522,000 he made last season. Kaleta, a restricted free agent, was scheduled to have an arbitration hearing on July 29.
From nearby Angola, N.Y., Kaleta has spent parts of four seasons with the Sabres and emerged as a fan favourite because of his rugged style. Buffalo's sixth-round pick in the 2004 draft, he set career highs last season with 10 goals and 15 points in 55 games. He also had 89 penalty minutes.
Overall, Kaleta has 17 goals and 14 assists, and 241 penalty minutes in 153 NHL games.
The jump in his production last season has led Kaleta to believe he can provide a bigger contribution on offence. The key is to stay healthy after missing numerous games over the past two seasons because of an assortment of injuries.
"I'm proud of what I've accomplished," he said. "But hopefully, it's only a small portion."
Unlike most NHL arbitration cases where the player prompts the hearing, the Sabres were prepared to take Kaleta to the table.
General manager Darcy Regier took that approach to ensure that Kaleta would be under contract before the season. Regier also wanted to avoid the potential of Kaleta receiving an offer sheet from another team, which the Sabres would have the right to match.
Regier added he has had contract talks this week with second-year centre Tim Kennedy, who has an arbitration hearing set for Tuesday.