It’s fair to say the Buffalo Sabres liked Tyler Myers from the start. They traded up to select him 12th overall in last June’s NHL entry draft, and General Manager Darcy Regier said he was happy to pay the price to get him.
On Monday, the Sabres proved their admiration again. They signed their top prospect to a three-year contract potentially worth more than $2.6 million.
The big question for the 6- foot-8 defenseman is when will he start making that money.
The 19-year-old has one year of junior hockey eligibility remaining. That leaves the Sabres with two options for next season: Play him in Buffalo or send him back to the Kelowna Rockets. Players with junior eligibility cannot play in the minor leagues.
The Sabres will have nine games to decide whether Myers is ready to patrol their blue line. Once Myers plays in 10 games, his contract cannot slide. If they decide he needs more junior seasoning before the 10th game, the contract wouldn’t start until the following season.
The way Myers is playing, it would be a surprise to see him anywhere but Buffalo this fall. Myers was named the Most Valuable Player of the Western Hockey League over the weekend after leading Kelowna to the WHL title and a spot in the Memorial Cup. Myers had 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in his 22 playoff games and a plus- 13 rating.
The Houston native and Calgary resident was just as good in the 58-game regular season, recording 42 points (nine goals, 33 assists), 105 penalty minutes and a plus-31. The smooth skater was also in the spotlight at the world junior championships, helping lead Canada to the gold medal.
“Tyler is having an outstanding year,” Regier, who was unavailable for further comment, said in a statement. “He is a big, strong player who has excellent hockey skills for a 19-year old player. We’re glad to have him signed and look forward to his continued development both on and off the ice.”
The Sabres expect Myers, who weighs 215 pounds, to add more bulk to his substantial frame as he matures. He’ll have the money for good food. Myers signed for the rookie maximum of $875,000 per season.
I have to remember when I have more time to look into the way entry-level contracts and bonuses are structured. I looked it up de Doughty last summer, and promptly forgot it all. Something limits the amount of bonus possible. Doughty’s bonus put his potential salary above $3MM. Myers’ — as reported here — would put him at $2.6MM. Hickey’s (as quoted on Inside the Kings) is in the $1.5MM range (from memory). If the bonus limits are tied to draft selection, wouldn’t Hickey’s bonus (selected 4th) be higher than Myers’ (selected 12th)?
Meanwhile, I’m not going to say out loud that I’m afraid Myers would have been a better pick than Teubert. Just because Myers had a tremendous year and Teubert had a spotty one? Yes, that would be the reasoning, were I to say such a thing, which I am not.