January 8, 2019 | 3:00pm ET
BY DAVID PAGNOTTA, The Fourth Period
SENATORS HAVE BUSY EIGHT WEEKS AHEAD
TORONTO, ON -- Ottawa Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion is going to be extremely busy between now and the Feb. 25 trade deadline, now just under eight weeks away.
The Senators have a number of pieces up for grabs in the trade market, but their primary concerns revolve around the futures of stars Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, and one might outweigh the other.
Both Duchene and Stone are important to the Senators’ franchise, and both players relayed earlier in the season their desires to stay with the club long-term, but Duchene’s future might be a little more pressing given the nature in which he was acquired.
Dorion and his staff have decisions to make, and certainly Duchene and Stone are at the top of the lists – given the amount of work ahead, there’s no mystery as to why Dorion didn’t join the team for its California roadtrip.
Dorion and Duchene’s agent, Los Angeles-based Pat Brisson, haven’t officially spoken in roughly one month. The two have a call scheduled for next week, I’m told, and time is of the essence.
By the time these two sides kick contract negotiations into high-gear, there will be less than seven weeks to go until the deadline. There doesn’t seem to be significant concern over the schedule, but if talks hit a snag, there isn’t that much time to make up for it.
Effectively, the Senators have seven weeks to get Duchene signed to a long-term contract extension. If they can’t come to terms on a new deal, they’ll likely have no other choice but to trade him – and if talks aren’t moving in the right direction, you’d have to think Dorion will engage in trade talks during contract negotiations.
Duchene’s next deal will be in the five-to-eight year range and hover around $8 million to $9 million per season, you’d have to wonder. Stone will receive a similar, if not more lucrative, contract and once he’s locked in, will likely become the club’s next captain.
These next seven-to-eight weeks will dictate much of the Senators’ on-ice future and if they get their way, both Duchene and Stone will stick around for years to come.
And as they battle through these contract negotiations, they’ll be involved in plenty of trade talk along the way.
Forward Ryan Dzingel leads the pack of players the Senators have on the trade block, and given both his $1.8 million salary cap hit and his offensive outburst this season, Ottawa should receive a healthy return for the 26-year-old.
Outside of Dzingel, forwards Bobby Ryan, Zack Smith, Mikkel Boedker and Magnus Paajarvi, and goaltender Craig Anderson are all up for grabs. Ryan, Smith and Anderson each have a 10-team no-trade list.
SUNDOWN IN ARIZONA
These rollercoaster ownership negotiations involving the Arizona Coyotes are back in familiar territory.
Just when it appeared Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway was inching closer to selling the franchise and talks had, as I was told at the time, sped up, it seems they’ve hit a wall, once again.
A sale involving the Coyotes is not considered imminent, as of today, and while the wheels are definitely in motion, progress has slowed.
One bright side in all of this: I can confirm there are at least two separate groups/parties with legitimate interest in purchasing the Coyotes and keeping them in Arizona (providing they can secure a new building after the fact).
It’s clear Barroway will be out as majority owner of the club when all is said and done, but it’s unclear as to when a sale will actually happen.
There are concerns over how much debt Barroway and the Coyotes have taken on – a figure now around $300 million – and how much of that/the returns will/won’t be paid back to its lenders.
By all accounts, what I was told in early-December may be most accurate and that is the “hope” around the NHL is a deal gets done by the end of the regular-season.