With hours to go before the NHL's 5 p.m. deadline to qualify restricted free agents, Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill announced that the team will not be extending offers to forward Scott Wilson and defenseman Victor Antipin.
Players who are not extended qualifying offers will become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Botterill announced last week that the Sabres have also declined to extend an offer to goalie Robin Lehner.
Botterill said the decision not to qualify Wilson was made to avoid arbitration but maintained optimism that a deal with the forward can still be reached. Wilson scored 14 points (6+8) in 49 games with Buffalo last season after being acquired from Detroit on Dec. 4.
"We're very hopeful that we can get a contract in place with him come July 1," Botterill said.
The decision to pass on Antipin, Botterill said, came down to the number of defensemen on the depth chart. Rasmus Dahlin is expected to be on the opening-night roster, joining a group of established defensemen in Rasmus Ristolainen, Marco Scandella, Zach Bogosian, Jake McCabe and Nathan Beaulieu as well as a pair of promising up-and-comers in Brendan Guhle and Casey Nelson.
The Sabres also brought in Lawrence Pilut from Sweden this offseason, although Botterill said the plan is to begin his development in Rochester.
Buffalo's list of restricted free agents also includes forwards Sam Reinhart, Nicholas Baptiste, Justin Bailey, Sean Malone, Danny O'Regan and C.J. Smith as well as goalie Jason Kasdorf.