Holy shit, the Heater Dany Heatley has officially been signed to the most expensive contract in Ottawa Senators history!
Word on the street is that the Heatley camp and Sens GM Bryan Murray agreed to the deal only a few hours before Heatley's self-declared negotiating deadline.
Terms of the deal are not quite disclosed, but TSN.ca is reporting it's a six-year deal worth $45M; and average of $7.5M per season. It also includes a no-movement clause (so Heater can't be traded, demoted to the farm team, or have his contract bought out without personal approval) and also means that Heatley will not become a free agent this off-season.
What does it mean for the future of the Senators, though? Even though the 2007-08 regular season is still 40 minutes away as I'm writing this, I'll go ahead and speculate what might happen in preparation for the 2008-09 season.
The Sens have eleven players under contract for 08-09, with cap-hit in brackets (source: NHLnumbers.com); Heatley ($7.5M), Daniel Alfredsson ($4.339), Mike Fisher ($4.2M), Martin Gerber ($3.7M), Chris Phillips ($3.5M), Joe Corvo ($2.75M), Ray Emery ($2.75M), Anton Volchenkov ($2.5M), Chris Neil ($1.2M), Dean McAmmond ($900K), and Christoph Schubert (also $900K). The total of those eleven is $34.239M.
Compare that number to this year's salary cap of $50.3M, and the Sens have about $16M left to sign a number of important restricted free agents, notably Jason Spezza, but also including Antoine Vermette, Patrick Eaves, Andrej Meszaros, and to a lesser extent Brian McGrattan. Spezza is the foremost concern amongst that group, and could certainly command a figure somewhere between Alfie's and Heatley's salary numbers.
When it comes to unrestricted FAs, there's Chris Kelly--who might look for $1.5-2.5M a year--as well as Wade Redden. If Redden doesn't take a serious pay-cut, from his current $6.5M down to somewhere nearer Phillips' number, he definitely won't be back. Even if he does, it depends on whether or not Reds returns to form this season. Shean Donovan and Luke Richardson are also both UFAs, but Richardson could certainly retire, and Donovan may even sign for less than his current $925K to stay with this team.
Ottawa then has $16M to sign 11 players. Trading a goalie would free up a couple million, but there's still the need to have an adequate backup, and I'm not sold on prospect Brian Elliott. Even to sign depth players it would be a stretch to get eleven for $16-18M, and re-signing from a pool that includes Kelly, Spezza, Redden, Eaves, Vermette, and Meszaros. We've known it was coming for quite a while, but it will be an interesting year for Murrray.