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Buffalo Sabres' Nathan Gerbe (42) passes under pressure from Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp (10) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., Friday, Dec. 11, 2009. (AP Photo/ David Duprey)

David Duprey

Centre Nathan Gerbe, who could have become a restricted free agent, instead agreed to a three-year deal to return to the Buffalo Sabres, the team announced Wednesday.

Gerbe had 16 goals, 15 assists and a plus-11 rating last season, his first full year with Buffalo after playing in 10 games in each of the two previous seasons. However, 15 of his goals last season came in the season's final 40 games.

Gerbe was drafted by the Sabres in the fifth round of the 2005 draft and was voted the American Hockey League rookie of the year in 2008.

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