Unrestricted free agent right-winger Chris Neil decided against moving today, re-signing with the Ottawa Senators for a four-year, $8M deal. It appeared Neil was going to move on after rejecting the 'final offer' of $1.7M for four years, but it looks like the player who said he wanted to stay actually did want to stay. TSN had reported that the New York Rangers offered Neil a four-year, $9.6M contract, but left that money on the table to stay in Ottawa.
|2008 - Chris Neil||60||3||7||10||-13||146||0||0||0||0||59||5.1|
Most Ottawa fans had already prepared themselves for Neil to move on, so this comes as a bit of a surprise--particularly given that Neil had his worst season (statistically speaking) in the NHL last season. The $2M annual salary is almost double the $1.1M he earned last year, and is a high price to pay for any fourth-line player. Under new coach Cory Clouston, Neil was largely resigned to the fourth line, and will likely compete with Jarkko Ruutu, Cody Bass, and Zack Smith for minutes on the Ottawa Senators' bottom two lines.
I will say it's nice to have a player who actually wants to stay in the city, and is willing to put his money where his mouth is as proof, but I think we've overpaid here for a player who is quickly losing his effectiveness as he gets older and as the game gets faster. Hopefully the steady downward trend in points for Neil since 2005-06--where he had 33 points, down to 28 in 2006-07, 20 in 2007-08, and finally 10 in 2008-09, turns around this year--but history shows that's rarely the case in the NHL.