Friday, August 23, 2013
Upcoming contract issues for Sens
By Tim Kavanagh
Friday marked Ottawa's turn for the Hockey Prospectus projections column in the "Summer Skate" series, but looking beyond 2013-14, the team will have some business issues with which to deal. Let's dive in.
The good news is that stud defenseman Erik Karlsson is signed through 2018-19, so they won't need to worry about business with him for a while. Elsewhere, however, there could be some problems. Up front, Milan Michalek's contract will be up after this season. Though he had a down season in 2013 (14 points in just 23 games played), that was mainly injury-related. A season prior, he notched 35 goals (including 10 on the power play) in 77 games. Despite the talent infusion from trades over the past several months (Cory Conacher and Bobby Ryan, specifically), it's likely that the Sens will look to secure Michalek again before he hits free agency next summer. Speaking of Conacher, his entry-level deal expires after this season, though he'll be an RFA, which makes things a little cheaper (though not any easier) for the club.
On defense, long-tenured Senator Chris Phillips -- who may wind up as the team's captain if the honor isn't passed to Jason Spezza -- will be without a contract following 2013-14. Will the Sens ink the man who'll turn 36 next March to another deal? Elsewhere on D, the club will also have a decision to make on Eric Gryba, whose entry-level deal is running out. Gryba is perhaps most well-known for his crushing hit that left Lars Eller in a heap on the ice during the postseason, but he logged 20:17 of average icetime during the season. Expected to take the next step in 2013-14, he'll be an RFA next summer.
And in goal, the Senators' future franchise goalie, Robin Lehner, will also be an RFA next summer. Based on what he's done at the AHL and NHL levels thus far, it's almost a certainty that he'll be inked to a new pact, but those negotiations may well drag out (as could be the case with Conacher and/or Gryba).