First-round pick agrees to 3-year contract

Updated: May 31, 2004, 5:51 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- First-round draft pick Daniel Paille agreed to a three-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.

Selected 20th overall in the 2002 draft, Paille is coming off a strong season in which he co-captained Guelph to the Ontario Hockey League title. The forward also gained prominence last winter when he was captain of Canada's team that won a silver medal at the World Junior Hockey championships.

"We believe that Daniel will bring a great deal of talent and character to our organization," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said.

A message left with Paille's agent, J.P. Barry, was not immediately returned.

Paille set career highs last season with 37 goals, 43 assists and 80 points. He grew up in Welland, Ontario, just across the border from Buffalo, and is considered one of junior hockey's top two-way players.

The move came a day before an NHL deadline for all teams to sign their 2002 picks who are not currently playing in Europe or at U.S. college, or lose their rights to those prospects.

The Sabres have two still-unsigned players from that draft, third-rounder Michael Tessier and eighth-rounder Dennis Wideman, who turned down a Sabres' contract offer last autumn.

After completing his season with London of the OHL, Wideman signed a deal with Buffalo's AHL farm team, but did not make an appearance with Rochester in the playoffs.

If left unsigned, Tessier would be eligible to return to the draft, while Wideman would become an unrestricted free agent.

Paille was Buffalo's second of two first-round selections in 2002. The Sabres selected defenseman Keith Ballard with the 11th pick but traded him to Colorado as part of a three-team deal to acquire Chris Drury last summer.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press