Senators address fear of losing Chris Neil, re-sign Chris Neil

With not much happening anymore this NHL offseason, the Ottawa Senators have clearly decided to get a head start on next year's offseason, re-signing 2013 UFA Chris Neil to a three-year deal, according to Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun:

It's believed the deal is worth $5.75 million and will see the team's career penalty minutes leader make $2 million in 2013-14, $2 million in 2014-15 and $1.75 million in 2015-16.

Neil, who will earn $2 million in 2012-13 as part of his current agreement, could have become an unrestricted free agent next July 1. Instead, on that day, the right winger will get a $200,000 bonus as up-front money on the next season's salary.

Neil, a fan favourite in Ottawa, is coming off a great season. The 33-year-old contributed 13 goals and 28 points in 2011-12, making it, statistically, the second best season of his NHL career. (He put up 16 goals and 33 points in 2005-06.)

But his contributions weren't just on the stat sheet. The grinder gave the Senators much-needed toughness when they needed it, such as during a hard-fought first round loss to the New York Rangers, and provided leadership on a young team.

Toughness and veteran leadership are two things you can't put a price on so everyone just overpays for. That in mind, Neil would have been a hot commodity on the open market, especially if he manages to duplicate last year's performance in the final year of his contract.

Clearly, the Senators didn't even want to risk him even thinking about it. Oh, what happens on July 1, 2013? You get $200,000, that's what! Quick, sign this.

Of note: Neil now joins Erik Karlsson as the only roster player the Senators have signed through 2015-16. So they're set.