Sens avoid arbitration with Mark Stone

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There haven’t been too many positive moments for the Ottawa Senators in 2018, but they can finally say they took care of business on Friday.

The Sens have signed forward Mark Stone to a one-year, $7.35 million contract. The two sides were all set to go to arbitration on Friday, but that will obviously no longer be necessary. The new deal allows him to become the highest paid player on the team next season (his cap hit is $100,000 higher than Bobby Ryan‘s).

The financial details of the contract aren’t surprising considering Stone was asking the arbitrator for $9 million, while the Sens were countering with $5 million. Clearly, neither side wanted to go to arbitration, which is probably wise, especially for the Senators.

The 26-year-old has put together four consecutive impressive seasons since making the leap to the NHL. Despite missing 24 games with knee and leg injuries, Stone still managed to put up 20 goals and 62 points in only 58 games.

The two sides will now shift their focus toward a long-term extension. Stone is a productive forward that’s still relatively young, so management has to find a way to lock him up before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Owner Eugene Melnyk has been apprehensive about committing significant dollar amounts to his players (see the Erik Karlsson situation). But having Stone walk for nothing, or even trading him away shouldn’t be an option for an Ottawa team that was forced to trade Mike Hoffman and that’s on the verge of dealing Karlsson.

With Hoffman and Karlsson (potentially) out of the picture, this can become Stone’s team. Before that happens, they have to find a way to get him under contract when he’s eligible to sign a new deal on Jan. 1, 2019.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.