The Mark Stone And Mika Zibanejad Signings Are Huge Going Forward


After losing out on last night’s Calder trophy honour, Mark Stone along with his teammate, Mika Zibanejad were greeted with a pen and paper this morning to finalize extensions on new contracts. Stone receives his as the older player and 2010 draftee with a term of 3 years. Zibanejad, as a younger player and 2011 draftee gets two years on a deal with a slightly less average annual salary.

For each player, it marks their first contract past the original entry level deals signed in 2011. The Senators will retain each player’s RFA status when the current deals are up, leaving Stone as a 25-year-old RFA and Zibanejad as a 24-year-old RFA.

As for what the deals mean going forward, the Senators find themselves with two young, fantastic players who get another chance to prove themselves before going for a big contract and eventually leading towards unrestricted free agency. While unrestricted free agency is still a few years off, the table below breaks down how each contract plays out in terms of free agency eligibility.

Stone2 250 0003 750 0004 500 000RFAUFA
Zibanejad2 000 0003 250 000RFARFAUFA
Pageau700 0001 100 000RFARFAUFA

Some fans cried for Mark Stone to be extended beyond the 3-years he got, simply because if the Senators spent a little more now, they could save a lot in the future.

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Going off of what Stone accomplished this past season and it wouldn’t be crazy to think he could fetch a massive deal in unrestricted free agency. So, while it’s a bridge deal, the Senators are smart to be retaining Stone’s RFA status when the current deal is up.

Zibanejad is in a similar situation, but as the younger player who didn’t have as an impactful year as Stone. It’s a contract that much like Stone’s, has the potential to lead to massive demands once it’s up. Zibanejad finds himself two years away from unrestricted eligibility as Stone’s 3-year term eats into one of those RFA seasons.

Another interesting thing to note is the Senators’ staggering of the deals. Clearly, having 2 big name RFA’s in one year isn’t an issue they want to deal with again and the group is planning to avoid that come the future.


On the ice, the Sens have two drafted and developed players who look like stars in the making. Zibanejad, who had a terribly slow start to last season needs to make off-season conditioning a priority to come in, ready to compete for role as number one centre.

Stone showed he has what it takes to play like an elite level player, especially in the later goings of the season. If Stone is able to put up a pace even close to that of the last 40 games or so, he’ll prove to be the type of franchise piece the Senators need if they want to compete.

In the immediate, Zibanejad will likely insulate a second line with wingers Mike Hoffman and Bobby Ryan, a trio he played well with last season. If Bobby Ryan is able to find his game like he was able to in the first half of 2014-15, the Senators will find themselves with two formidable lines heading into a year where they are serious about competing.

Of course, anchoring the 1st line will be newly signed Mark Stone, along with teammates Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur … that’s a pretty solid top 6, if you’re asking me.

"MacArthur – Turris – StoneHoffman – Zibanejad – Ryan"

So, while Bryan Murray continues to search for a top 6 forward and while having another is never a bad thing, it’s clear that the top 6 guy isn’t the team’s biggest need. Rather, moving unnecessary depth deals (Legwand, Greening, Neil, Smith, etc.), and perhaps adding on defence is where the priorities should be set.

As Senators fans, it’s awesome to have these two players locked up with term. The focus now shifts to the NHL entry draft on Friday and for the Senators, signing Mike Hoffman and Alex Chiasson to deals. Hoffman nears unrestricted free agency and Chiasson is a question mark to be back next year.

Other than that, there are few storylines to follow for the Senators this off-season. The Stone, Zibanejad, and Pageau signings mark Ottawa’s most important RFA deals and other than the goalie trade, here’s looking forward to October and the return or the NHL!

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