By John Vogl
The Sabres got the leader they were looking for. Brian Gionta is coming to Buffalo.
The Sabres have signed the Montreal captain to three-year contract worth $4.25 million per season. The 35-year-old right winger just finished a five-year, $25 million deal with the Canadiens.
Gionta leaves the Habs after putting up 18 goals and 40 points in 81 games. But his game and leadership goes beyond points, and that's exactly what Buffalo wanted.
The Sabres sought at least two veteran leaders, and they got them both from Montreal less than 90 minutes into the free agency period. They acquired defenseman Josh Gorges from the Habs for a second-round pick in 2016, and Gorges (who had a modified no-trade clause) agreed to the deal partially because he knew Gionta was interested in Buffalo.
Gionta's deal with Buffalo includes a no-movement clause for the first two seasons and a limited no-trade clause in the third year.
Gionta, who is from Rochester, is a former U.S. Olympian who had his best season in 2005-06. He put up 48 goals and 89 points in 82 games with New Jersey. Gionta has 249 goals and 485 points in 776 games.