The Ottawa Senators have signed forward Mark Stone to a one-year contract worth $7.35 million, thereby avoiding arbitration. The deal was announced Friday morning.
The arbitration hearing between the Senators and Stone was also set for Friday.
Stone’s reported ask for arbitration was $9 million, while the club was gearing for a counter offer of $5 million. That’s a pretty momentous gulf and this new deal works out about right in the middle of the two sides. The single-year term makes Stone an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Stone is coming off a three-year contract signed in June of 2015 worth $10.5 million.
The Senators have been going through one of the most problematic off-seasons in recent memory, with team drama at an awkward high and player contracts creating problems. The bight between Stone and the hockey team is clear and arbitration is almost always an unpleasant process. Avoiding it was the wise move, but this by no means suggests a conclusion.
The Senators will also contend with Cody Ceci on Friday, with a decision on the way. He had an arbitration hearing Wednesday and asked for $6 million, while Ottawa countered with a $3.35 million offer. If you’re spotting a trend, you’re right.
It’s normal for two sides to start high and counter low, of course, but there’s no telling how these kinds of negotiations sever trust between team and player. In the case of an already hot-blooded franchise, nasty arbitration hearings can’t help.
Stone had 62 points last season, including 42 assists. He’s scored at least 20 goals in each of his last four full NHL seasons and is the best player in the league when it comes to takeaways. He’s ahead in the category by a long shot, with 381 since 2014-2015.
Stone has 249 points in 307 NHL games, with 13 points in 27 playoff games.