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Sabres avoid arbitration with Roy; Ryder, Avery next big cases on Monday

The Buffalo Sabres want to keep their core players.

"From out standpoint, it's about looking at a player like Derek, and making the determination and making the decision that he was someone that we wanted to have in the organization for an extended period of time," the Sabres GM told The Canadian Press on Friday. "We have a lot of confidence in him both in his abilities now and his ability to get better."

Roy will earn an average of $4 million per season, a huge raise over the $627,000 he made last season. The 24-year-old had a career-high 63 points (21 goals, 42 assists) in 75 games in 2006-'07, his third NHL season. He was also a plus-37 - fifth-best among all NHL skaters.

The two sides avoided salary arbitration - barely. The hearing in Toronto had actually begun at 9 a.m. ET when Regier and Roy's agent Larry Kelly cemented the deal.

"We had some conversations between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and it carried over past the start of the arbitration," said Regier.

Roy was the latest player to avoid arbitration. Only Brooks Laich of Washington and Antti Miettinen of Dallas have actually gone through with their hearings.

The action picks up again Monday with three hearings on tap, Michael Ryder and Montreal, Sean Avery and the New York Rangers and Milan Jurcina and the Capitals.

In other moves Friday:

-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 played for the Manitoba Moose last season, Vancouver's AHL affiliate. Fahey split last season between New Jersey and its AHL team in Lowell.

-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 Ryder and Avery hearings Monday warrant attention.

Ryder, 27, had 58 points (30-28) in 82 games last season - his second consecutive 30-goal season. But he was also minus-25. He earned $2.2 million last year and is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.

Given the $4 million a year Roy got and the $4.25 million Edmonton handed 29-goal man Dustin Penner in an offer sheet, Ryder may double his salary.

But will he get to arbitration?

"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 (18-30) 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.



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