When Mark Stone signed a one-year deal with the Ottawa Senators, many believed it signaled he'd leave the team the following summer. According to Stone, that may not be the case.
Many insiders suspected his $7.35 million one-year contract just prior to arbitration signaled the writing on the wall for Stone's eventual departure. The Senators could have extended him long-term but instead chose to accept a single season deal that would see Stone become an unrestricted free agent next summer and completely out of team control. The fact that players like Erik Karlsson and Matt Duchene were also rumored to be considering their exit from the team made the outlook for the Senators not positive.
However, a recent report by Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch suggests that writing off Stone as a long-term fit in Ottawa may be premature.
Stone mentioned that he’s certainly open to discussing an extension when the window opens up in January. He said, “Everyone is looking at this and I think most fans are thinking this is pretty negative news." Stone is right in that when a team and player approach and often go to arbitration, it leaves both sides feeling awkward moving forward. Stone suggests that's not what happened here. "I think both sides left Toronto happy that we still have the opportunity to work something out... both sides were able to leave on good terms is a good sign.”
While this doesn't guarantee Stone won't pursue a big-ticket signing in free agency, if Stone does stay, it signals the Senators organization is not throwing in the towel or guaranteeing a full rebuild. Still, Ottawa potentially can’t afford a hefty frontloaded contract with huge signing bonuses — something Stone will undoubtedly see as an offer from another NHL franchise should he be open to accepting offers come July 1, 2019.
The Senators and Stone may have a long road to getting a new long-term deal done, but at least the possibility exists and Stone is all ears.