First Erik Karlsson... then Matt Duchene... now Mark Stone. The three amigos, who together form the key core of the Ottawa Senators, are all slated to become free agents on July 1st. The Sens’ 6th round pick in 2010 has turned into more than any Sens fan could’ve hoped for, but now we’ve reached a point where he could be gone within the year.
That is why today we’re rolling out our new three-part ‘series’, titled Season of the Sentury.
The 2018-19 NHL season opens in less than a month, and for the Ottawa Senators, this could be the most pivotal time in franchise history. The organization’s three best players of Stone, Karlsson and Duchene are all entering a contract year, and with unrest in the front office, the trio head into the season with the possibility of it being their last in Ottawa.
The purpose of these articles is to provide you with coverage on any new developments, whether it be news or rumours, in a single place. With information on the subject usually coming out in small pieces, this platform will be used by the Silver Seven staff to give you quick hits on any news as it comes out. Not everything is worth writing a full article about, so we hope this will be your go-to place for the latest updates.
No need to worry about bookmarking this page either, as it will be moved to the top of the home page after each update, with each one also being time-stamped.
This specific area will be dedicated to Mark Stone — we also have Season of the Sentury posts for Matt Duchene and Erik Karlsson.
February 25th — Potential Suitors Dwindling
Per Chris Johnston, two teams are out of negotiations for Mark Stone: the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames. Both were originally anticipated to be amidst the most competitive bidders.
He was referring to Mark Stone here. So Calgary is out. And Winnipeg is out. https://t.co/wRgKL8H0LR— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 25, 2019
The Jets acquired centre Kevin Hayes earlier today, and while they still have some future assets remaining, it appears they’re done going after top talent.
As for the Flames, negotiations with Stone reportedly came very close last night, then fell apart. They have yet to make a big splash today, although it also appears they’re out of the running. Stone’s brother Michael plays for them, although is currently on the injured reserve.
February 25th — Morning Stone Report
It’s deadline day, with today being the Sens’ last chance to complete trades before the end of the season. All eyes will be on Mark Stone, as he’s by far the best player on the market, and the Sens seem adamant to trade him by 3:00 p.m. today.
Bruce Garrioch has reported that there are eight teams with irons in the fire on Stone, with Pierre LeBrun giving us a list of six ($): Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders and Vegas Golden Knights.
The price will be high on Stone, estimated to be an anted up version of the package Ottawa got for Duchene — two high-end prospects, and two 1st round picks. The Sens may want one of the prospects to be NHL-ready, although not every team may be able to provide that, let alone be willing to give that up.
Vegas in particular has stepped up their offer this morning. The tough task for Dorion will be to keep teams interested, instead of moving onto other options such as Chris Kreider or Micheal Ferland. The impending deadline could either gain or lose the Sens leverage, depending on how he and other GMs play their cards.
Regardless, we’re expecting today to be jam-packed with Sens news, so stay tuned to Silver Seven for the latest coverage.
February 23rd — Still No Final Direction
Bob McKenzie had some more thoughts on Mark Stone today and the consensus is that while there is still an extremely small chance that an extension is worked out, the two parties are still struggling to agree on a final offer. When it comes to “stepping up the offer” we can all assume it means one thing, signing bonuses. It should be noted, that McKenzie specifically noted Melnyk not Dorion which further puts a light on the real issue. It seems to be a game of who will budge first and whether Melnyk/Dorion are smart enough to realize they cannot survive the PR disaster they’ll have if they do trade Stone.
That said, the primary focus for OTT GM Pierre Dorion is obviously trading Stone and serious suitors include WPG, NSH, CGY, BOS, amongst others. Usual grumbling about the price being way too high, but it is, as they say, a process.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 23, 2019
In addition, during the first intermission of last night’s game, Darren Dreger also echoed same notion that there is still a chance of re-signing Stone, albeit an extremely small one. At the end of the day, Sens fans have nothing to do but to hold on to any hope, even if it’s a 1% chance.
February 19th — Final Push
With Friday’s soft deadline for a decision having passed, we now know that Matt Duchene is officially on the trading block. Mark Stone is in a slightly difference scenario, however, as with less than a week left until the trade deadline, the Sens are still pushing to sign him to an extension.
OTT and Mark Stone have re-engaged in discussions over the past few days to see if there is common ground on an extension. Meanwhile, the Senators have made Matt Duchene available, and expect those talks to heat up over the next few days.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 17, 2019
Bruce Garrioch also had this to say in his latest article:
“While the indications are centre Matt Duchene is ready to move on to try to win a title, the Senators tabled a new offer to Stone, the club’s top player, last week and general manager Pierre Dorion is waiting for word from his representatives at Newport Sports for an answer.
“The offer is believed to be serious and comprehensive. That’s why Stone’s camp asked for time to think about it.”
Darren Dreger also said that the new offer is “creative”, which could imply many things. Did the Sens bump up the cap hit last-minute like they tried with Karlsson? Are signing bonuses actually coming into play? It would also make sense for the offer to include the guarantee of team captaincy.
Friedman suggested that the Sens’ offer could have been around five years with a cap hit of $10.5 million, although those reports were denied.
Dorion returns to Ottawa today after spending four days in Winnipeg, and will reconvene with his pro scouting staff to discuss options. A lot of key decisions will need to be made quickly, with the deadline fast approaching. Stay tuned, Sens fans.
January 2nd — Extension Watch Begins
It’s a new year, and with that comes a very important date for the Ottawa Senators. All NHL players on a one-year deals are now eligible to sign an extension on their contracts, the most prominent of those being Mark Stone. Choosing to take a one-year deal instead of a long-term contract this past off-season, the Sens’ star forward has set himself up to become an unrestricted free on July 1st. While many were hoping the Sens would jump on this as soon as possible, it appears that Dorion will be taking his time.
Mark Stone says he expects contract discussions to start in the next two weeks. Says he wants to stay. See where it goes. #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) January 1, 2019
Stone’s agent, Craig Oster, has deep ties to the organization, also representing Erik Karlsson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Fredrik Claesson and Justin Falk amongst many others. He’s also the uncle of Brady Tkachuk.
There are a few crucial questions moving forward. How sincere is Stone in saying that he wants to stay? The Sens’ situation over the past year has been tumultuous, and currently sitting in last place, free agency is an open door where almost every team will be bidding for his services.
Also, what are the Sens’ intentions heading into these negotiations? The lack of urgency is worrying, and considering the team’s ownership situation, one wonders whether they’ll be willing to pay him the big figures he’ll be rightfully commanding. The team has also been pushing their plan of a rebuild, so how would the 26-year-old Stone fit in with those plans? Is a trade deadline rental deal also potentially in the cards?
September 19th — A Quick Denial
It didn’t take long for someone to ask Stone about Jean’s report. His response via Marc Brassard, of LeDroit:
“I have never heard of Louis Jean, I do not know where he could have found this information. I love it here, I have loved my last 4 years here and I want to stay here. I don’t know who Louis Jean is.”
Mark Stone, à ce sujet : «Je n'ai jamais entendu parler de Louis Jean, je ne sais pas où il aurait pu trouver cette information. J'adore ça ici, j'ai aimé mes 4 dernières années ici et je veux rester ici. Je ne sais pas qui est Louis Jean.» https://t.co/X5VVyZb2rI— Marc Brassard (@mbrassard) September 19, 2018
September 19th — Stone Wants Out?
If you were slowly starting to process the Karlsson trade and get out of your extreme anger and sadness, just stop. There seems to be more coming and while it may just be hearsay, it’s never great to hear that your next best player doesn’t want to play in Ottawa anymore. According to Louis Jean on TVA Sports, Mark Stone may be the next Senator on the move with this great quote to set us all in panic mode:
“What I’ve been told is that Mark Stone does not want to be in Ottawa anymore. He does not want to play in Ottawa anymore. He is frustrated because he sees the direction the club is going. The team is not able to retain their good players. “
Take it for what it’s worth but you can’t blame the fans for being upset or overreacting to such an update. My personal biggest concern with this would be if players are asking out already, do they know a sale isn’t imminent. How far down can Melnyk take this team before he’s forced to sell and by then, what will we have left? Can’t say I blame Stone if true, just wish he would stick around and try to be the hero for this city/fanbase.
September 12th — Intentions vs Actions
With trade talks heating up around Erik Karlsson, the opposite appears to be happening for Mark Stone and Matt Duchene. In Bruce Garrioch’s piece yesterday, buried beneath all the Karlsson talk was a glimmer of hope:
“The talks to move Karlsson have been more active in recent weeks and the possibility remains he gets dealt before camp. It’s believed the Senators want forwards Mark Stone and Matt Duchene as part of the solution but those two will have to decide down the road if they want to be here.”
Shawn Simpson, who interviewed for the position of Assistant General Manager, tweeted a similar statement this morning:
I know it's Dorion's intention to sign Stone & Duchene.— Shawn Simpson (@TSNSimmer) September 12, 2018
This comes as slightly surprising following the infamous video posted earlier this week, where one quote from Melnyk in particular stood out on what could be alluding to their star players:
“It’s not about individuals anymore, because you’re not going to win. One player, two players, three players in the dressing room are not going to do it. You need leadership, and then you build under that. And we’re going to build that with young prospects that are coming through.”
Of course, Stone and Duchene have all the leverage when it comes to this situation, and if Karlsson is traded or the team plummets in the standings (or both), they could easily request a trade or just hold out until the season’s over. But if the reports are true, that still leaves a bit of optimism knowing that the core forwards could be kept around for a while longer.
September 12th — How Did We Get Here?
Stone has been a key piece to the Sens’ forward corps for a few seasons now. He burst onto the scene in 2014-15 where he finished second in Calder Trophy voting. He’s grown every season since, culminating in 62 points in 58 games last season. Although he’s had some injury problems, he’s still locked into his prime at 26 years old.
That’s what made this off-season’s negotiations all the more wild. Just finishing his three-year, $10.5M bridge deal, it would’ve been a no-brainer to lock him up long term. That didn’t happen however, as right before an arbitration hearing that would’ve guaranteed a one-year deal, an agreement was made that paid him $7.35M... for only one year. The kicker is that this buys up his final RFA year, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next July 1st.
This only further perpetuated the narrative that the organization has been dysfunctional behind the scenes. Stone was given all the leverage heading in the situation, and he decided to use it on a one-year deal. If he wanted to stay in Ottawa long term, he could’ve easily cashed in on a secure long-term deal following the best season of his career. Instead, he gave himself a door out.
Like Karlsson and Duchene, Stone has expressed his pleasure of being in Ottawa and wanting the best for the team. But this contract says something different about his intentions on staying, which brings him to the current position. He can’t negotiate an extension until January 1st, although if the team decides to go for a full rebuild, even more could be different before then.