Senators sign Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad to smart deals

Senators sign Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad to smart deals

Mark Stone didn’t win the Calder Trophy on Wednesday night – the right guy did – but he did win something else while in Vegas: a new contract from the Ottawa Senators.

It’s a three-year deal with an average cap hit of $3.5 million. His salary structure: $2.25 million, $3.75 million and $4.5 million in the final season.

The deal makes Stone the fourth-highest-paid forward on the team based on cap hit, tied with linemate Kyle Turris, who is two years older at 25. Stone had 26 goals and 38 assists last season, while Turris had 24 goals and 40 assists, his best offensive season in the NHL.

Stone and Turris will have the same money and the same term through 2017-18. This is probably not a coincidence.

The Sens also signed center Mika Zibanejad, 22, to a new two-year deal worth $2.625 million against the cap. He’ll make $2 million this season and $3.25 million in 2016-17, and will be an RFA at the end of his deal (as will Stone, incidentally).

He hit 20 goals and 26 assists last season in 80 games, even with a flat finish (1 goal and 2 assists in his last 10 games, despite the team being on fire). He’s starting to put it together, possessing enormous offensive talent. They’ve been patient with him.

Here’s Bruce Garrioch’s take:

Getting Stone signed was key. He finished tied for the rookie scoring lead with 64 points and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy, which went to Florida defenceman Aaron Ekblad last night at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

As for Zibanejad, he hasn’t come into his own yet, but he’s shown great potential and is headed in the right direction.

And in the case of both: If things don’t work out, they’re very portable contracts for players that still have RFA status.

I like the Stone deal, because I like Stone. From an analytics perspective, he makes Turris exponentially better than others on the Sens' roster. He's not going to win you any speed skating medals, but he's got a hockey sense that earned him top line minutes and will likely keep him there. And $3.5 million is a decent enough hit -- just ahead of what Ondrej Palat got in a similar situation last year.