The aftermath of the terrible 2017/2018 Ottawa Senators season continues to gift us with decisions that make absolutely no sense. A few days ago, it was reported that Mark Stone was headed to arbitration after the Sens offered him $5M to counter his $9M ask. Not agreeing on the value of Cody Ceci to the team is understandable but waiting this long to sign Mark Stone to a long-term contract is bizarre and the decision to sign him to only a one year contract is absolutely flabbergasting.
Stone’s ask of $9M was seen as high by many (non Sens fans) but as a player who is easily considered the second best player on the team after Erik Karlsson and possibly the next Ottawa Senators captain, you would think that Dorion and Co would recognize that his value to the team is immeasurable. The actual monetary amount of the deal is great but considering this probably means he’s a UFA next season, it really doesn’t settle any worries the fans may have surrounding the team’s long term plan to ‘succeed”.
The truth is, Mark Stone was going to get a one year deal either way but by avoiding arbitration, there’s hope that there is still a shred of goodwill left between Stone and the Sens. Many are pointing out that Stone may have agreed to a one year deal to just cash in his last year before his ultimate freedom next July. While this is absolutely plausible and justifiable, I am still hoping there is a greater plan behind this wild decision. It is quite clear at this point that no player wants to play for a team owned by Melnyk (or managed by Dorion) and while there have been no clear indications of a sale coming soon; players like Stone and Duchene may use this upcoming season to see how things shape up with ownership. I really wouldn’t be surprised if it was really Stone who wanted a one year deal until he got some confirmation that this is an organization worth committing long term to. The other theory could be that Stone could have been promised a larger deal next July by Dorion after they free up some cap space via Smith and/or Gaborik if he avoided arbitration. There is something odd going on with the Ottawa Senators and at this point there is no way to make sense of it all. Losing Karlsson is going to be a really tough hit in terms of skill, but Stone sticking around long term would have at least made the recovery a bit smoother. With Stone, Duchene and possibly Karlsson UFAs next July; Sens fans have a lot to worry about throughout the season which I hope for our sanity is at least bearable to watch.
It still amazes me that a team can be this incompetent in dealing with its star players. While I will always root for the Sens, it’s hard to feel an ounce of positivity about this team right now. So fans, as this cursed off season continues what do you expect the next thoughtless Sens decision will be?