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Chabot signing creates new hope for Senators fan base

 Thomas Chabot #72 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on October 6, 2018.
Thomas Chabot #72 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on October 6, 2018. - Claus Andersen
OTTAWA, Ont. —

It is the moment Ottawa Senators fans have been waiting for.

For all the talk about the riding the club’s next generation of young prospects into Stanley Cup contention in the future, true belief was contingent on securing the biggest piece of the puzzle.

That would be star defenceman Thomas Chabot, who signed a colossal eight-year, $64 million contract extension Wednesday morning.

The deal, which runs all the way through the end of the 2027-28 season, might just convince a fair share of skeptical fans that the team is going to live up to its words of paying its top talent to fair value contracts. Last month, centre Colin White was signed to a six-year, $28.5 million deal.

The Chabot deal, however, could be a game changer.

Chabot, 22, would have become a restricted free agent next summer, when the possibility existed that he could attract an offer sheet from a rival NHL team or be traded to avoid that possibility.

Now that the deal is done, there’s a gamble involved for both the Senators and Chabot in the contract.

The Senators, of course, are hoping that Chabot, one of the NHL’s top young defencemen, will continue to improve into becoming one of the NHL’s perennial elite blueliners.

Chabot scored 14 goals and 41 assists in 70 games last season and if not for shoulder and toe injuries, would have passed the traded-away Mark Stone and Matt Duchene as the club’s leading scorer.

If he does that elite status and the NHL’s salary cap continues to rise, he will represent a bargain, relative to his peers in the league.

At the same time, Chabot is opting for long-term security, rather that being in position to test unrestricted free agency – and an even bigger payday — down the road. Other star defenceman, including Boston’s Charlie McAvoy and Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets, signed three-year deals last week, keeping alive the possibility of securing even larger contracts as unrestricted free agents in the future.

The Chabot deal could inspire hope among the long-suffering Senators fan base, allowing the city’s hockey fans to breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to securing the club’s best player. The Winnipeg Jets are currently in a major contract squabble with star restricted free agent forwards Patrick Laine and Kyle Connor.

While Senators star left winger Brady Tkachuk isn’t eligible to become a restricted free agent until the end of the 2020-21 season, the Chabot signing also creates hope that he will eventually be signed to a long term extension as well.

 

kwarren@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Citizenkwarren


Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019


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