The Ottawa Senators stayed busy on Tuesday following the Jason Spezza trade, agreeing to a three-year, $12 million extension with UFA winger Milan Michalek.
Michalek, 29, rebounded from a serious knee injury to appear in all 82 games last year and steadily improve as the season progressed, finishing with 17 goals and 39 points. The Czech winger played some of his best hockey down the stretch, skating on a line with Spezza and Ales Hemsky while scoring 12 points over the final 19 games.
Of course, Spezza and Hemsky are no longer with the club.
Michalek just wrapped the final of a six-year, $26 million deal with a $4.33M annual cap hit, so he now gets half the term and slightly less money per year. That said, it’s worth noting he got a better (reported) deal than the one Ottawa offered Hemsky, believed to be a three-year, $10 million pact.
This summer was already shaping up to be a busy one for the Ottawa Senators, but now they’ll have another potential free agent forward to keep tabs on.
According to Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen, Senators forward Milan Michalek will take advantage of the NHL’s interview window for potential unrestricted free agents and see what’s potentially out there.
Michalek, 29, reportedly wants to stay in Ottawa, but the opportunity to see what may be out on the market from other teams is situation he’s taking advantage of. His agent, Allan Walsh, told Scanlan they’re not looking for anything “stupid” in terms of a deal.
Seeing him explore what’s out there puts the Sens in a potentially tough spot.
The team is looking to move Jason Spezza and potential free agent Ales Hemsky reportedly broke off contract talks with the team. Those two along with Michalek made up what was Ottawa’s top line at the end of last season.
Considering the Sens missed the playoffs with them, they’d be in dire need of help should they move on without them.
With departure talk dominating the headlines, the Ottawa Senators flipped the script on Tuesday.
The Sens have entered into extension negotiations with pending UFA forward Milan Michalek, the Ottawa Citizen reports. The development comes after the Sens had their three-year, $10 million deal to Ales Hemsky rejected and received word that Jason Spezza wants out of the Canadian capital (the captain has already submitted his no-trade list.)
Michalek, 29, rebounded from a serious knee injury to appear in all 82 games last year and steadily improve as the season progressed, finishing with 17 goals and 39 points. The Czech winger played some of his best hockey down the stretch, skating on a line with Spezza and Hemsky while scoring 12 points over the final 19 games.
Michalek just wrapped the final of a six-year, $26 million deal with a $4.33M annual cap hit. It’s unclear what he and Ottawa are discussing in terms of contract length and salary, but the Sens don’t have any cap issues with nearly $20 million in space and 19 players already under contract.
That said, Ottawa isn’t a spend-to-cap team and has been hamstrung by an internal budget before.
The Ottawa Senators hope to keep forward Stephane Da Costa in the mix, but his status as a restricted free agent doesn’t make him that much easier to keep him in the fold.
Senators assistant GM Pierre Dorion told TSN 1280 that Da Costa (pictured representing France) is also being wooed by the KHL, and from the sound of things, there might be more lucrative offers overseas. The Press & Sun-Bulletin’s Max Weinstein transcribed some key quotes from that interview:
“We’d like to keep him but it has to make sense for both parties,” Dorion said. “It’s no secret that the KHL is offering him big money and it’s up to Steph if he wants to pursue his NHL dream or not. I think we’ve made a very fair offer. (Ottawa general manager Brian Murray) feels that way, I feel that way, I think his agent feels it’s a fair offer and we’ll just see where we go from there.”
Da Costa, 24, hasn’t made a huge impact at the NHL level (four points in 12 games this season; 11 in 47 career NHL games spread over four campaigns), yet he’s had a great tournament for France at the 2014 World Hockey Championship so far. His nine points in seven games matches the efforts of Alex Ovechkin, Seth Jones and Joel Ward in this tournament, helping France finish in the top eight.
While the likelihood of a big offer sheet is slim to none, a KHL team could indeed put forth an offer that Da Costa couldn’t refuse.
In other interesting Senators contract considerations, Dorion indicates that the haggling with backup/1B goalie Robin Lehner could very well take a while.
“There are a few different scenarios,” Dorion said. “We made two types of offers to Robin without getting into too many details. They came back with three types of offers. It’s not a contract that will be done tomorrow.”
Combine those interesting negotiation processes for young players and some tough calls regarding veterans like Ales Hemsky and Milan Michalek and it could be an interesting summer for the Senators.
Let’s build on the debate raging over Alex Ovechkin’s league-worst plus-minus (-36) by bringing some other names into the discussion, shall we?
Following is a screenshot from NHL.com:
Not surprisingly, no shortage of Sabres and Oilers, the two worst five-on-five teams in the NHL.
Coyotes d-man Keith Yandle is a bit of a surprise being so far down, but we suppose he helps make up for it on the power play.
Nashville’s Seth Jones would probably like to see a higher number beside his name, but let’s not forget Drew Doughty finished minus-17 as a rookie and Duncan Keith was minus-11 in his first season with the ‘Hawks.
Alex Edler’s minus-33 is almost impressive considering he’s only played 58 games this season. The next lowest plus-minus on the Canucks belongs to former Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler, at minus-15.
Look, we all know plus-minus is a seriously flawed statistic. Good players on bad teams constantly get overly criticized for having a low rating. Unless you think Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek are the worst players on the Ottawa Senators.
That said, there’s no question Ovechkin could be more dedicated in all three zones. Just because he scores a lot of goals, and just because he’s a winger, doesn’t mean he can ignore his defensive responsibilities.
And he knows that.
“We make easiest mistakes,” Ovechkin said after last night’s costly 5-0 loss to Dallas. “We turn puck over in our zone, in the neutral zone. It cost us the game.”