Looking back at the summer of 2008, it wa a pretty busy one for Sens GM Bryan Murray. If not for some shrewd mid-season signings, though, it could have been a lot busier.
Each of Mike Fisher, Jason Spezza, and Dany Heatley had their contracts extended during the season, saving Murray a lot of headaches had the three made it into free agency. It's been bad enough with only Chris Kelly, Antoine Vermette, Shean Donovan, and possibly Andrej Meszaros to re-sign (after a few other potential free agents were either traded or allowed to walk).
Looking forward to the summer of 2009, however, it looks like Murray decided to save himself a few headaches by locking up key players into multi-year deals. Aside from possibly Daniel Alfredsson, whose contract includes team-options if he fails to produce (don't count on it), none of the possible free agents should be difficult to re-sign. Dean McAmmond and Chris Neil are the only two UFAs who see a regular shift, and seem poised to make less than $1M if they are extended. Martin Gerber will also be a UFA, but the idea seems to give the starting role to either of Jeff Glass or Brian Elliott, if they're ready for it for 2009-10.
It seems a lot of the signings Murray has done have been to build a two-year plan, with flexibility afterwards of completely reassembling the team. Contracts that will come up after the 2009-10 season include Vermette, Donovan, Cody Bass, Nick Foligno, Jason Smith, Anton Volchenkov, Christoph Schubert, Brian Lee, and Alex Auld. Certainly not an impossible summer, but it will be difficult--especially considering all those defencemen's contracts.
One would assume that, as long as this upcoming 2008-09 season goes relatively well (better than last season, if not quite as good as 2006-07), then Murray will continue with the current two-year plan. And if not, well, there are a lot of reasonably-priced contracts that should look good at the trade deadline or on July 1, 2009.