Ottawa Senators should worry about a Thomas Chabot offer-sheet

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 22: Thomas Chabot #72 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Canadian Tire Centre on February 22, 2019 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/NHLI via Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 22: Thomas Chabot #72 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Canadian Tire Centre on February 22, 2019 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Thomas Chabot’s entry-level contract expires on July 1, 2020. The Ottawa Senators need to do everything they can to sign him to an extension before that date arrives.

All the talk about restricted free agents and offer-sheets that prevailed going into the free agency period of the NHL schedule got me thinking about how all this might affect the Ottawa Senators and their star defenceman next off-season.

It seems every year come free agent time we hear about restricted free agents and the possibility for an offer-sheet, and it seems like every year that is all just talk and the restricted free agents re-sign with their respective teams and no one is the wiser. Well, this year was different. This July 1 we actually saw an offer-sheet presented by the Montreal Canadiens to Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The fact that we actually saw one this year makes me wonder if the mindset of the old boys club that is the group of NHL General Managers has changed. There seems to have been some sort of unspoken rule that they simply didn’t sign offer-sheets, but some reason that has changed this season. Even if we did only see one offer-sheet (that still has time to change before the season starts) the fact that there was so much open dialogue and discussion regarding signing offer-sheets leads me to think that we might start seeing offer-sheets more often.

Insert the Ottawa Senators and Thomas Chabot. The young left-handed defenseman quickly established himself as one of the best young defensemen in the league this past season. It would not surprise me at all if another General Manager out there would be willing and ready to negotiate an offer-sheet with Thomas Chabot. Has anyone ever heard of the GM in Montreal? Yeah, the same one that recently tried to poach Sebastian Aho out of Carolina with an offer-sheet. Can you imagine the fanfare in Montreal if the GM signed a French-Canadian young player that just happens to be left-handed defenseman? Yeah, exactly.

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I’m not saying that Ottawa fans should be worried about a potential Montreal offer-sheet to Thomas Chabot specifically. I’m just saying that there is the potential for an offer-sheet to come for Thomas Chabot. Let’s take a look at the most recent offer-sheet, the Montreal/Sebastian Aho one. According to multiple confirmed reports, and Sebastian Aho’s CapFriendly page, the Montreal Canadiens’ offer included 11.3 million dollars for the first year in signing bonus, and a shade under 10 million in signing bonus for the second year. That essentially comes down to 21 million dollars in the first few years. It’s important to remember that yearly signing bonuses are due in one lump sum on a pre-specified date already outlined in the player’s contract.

Hypothetically, if a team were to sign or want to sign Thomas Chabot this would have to be the way to go. If people thought that 21 million dollars in the first 12 months of the Aho contract would make team owner Tom Dundon think twice about matching the offer, imagine what a similar offer would do to Eugene Melnyk’s wallet and personal health!

Recent Ottawa Senators history has shown us how the team avoids signing bonuses like the plague! Since the Senators signed Bobby Ryan to a contract extension, there have not been very many contracts signed by the team including signing bonuses. There currently are six players on the Senators roster with signing bonuses: Bobby Ryan, Artem Anisimov, Connor Brown, Brady Tkachuk, Nikita Zaitsev, and Christian Jaros. Three of those players are players that were acquired by the team. Those same three players were acquired after their signing bonuses were paid out.

Back to Thomas Chabot. One of the top organizational priorities this summer heading into next season should be to sign the defenseman to a long-term contract extension before he is able to hit the market as a restricted free agent. If the organization wants to show to the fanbase that they are committed to winning and competing in the future (remember those 4-5 years of unparalleled success Eugene Melnyk spoke about) and that they are actually able to keep their stars (remember, this fanbase has seen Erik Karlsson, Matt Duchene, and Mark Stone leave all in under one year) then convincing Chabot to sign would be a great start. For that to happen, I think the team might have to adapt to the current way the NHL does business with signing bonuses. I know it is going to hurt Eugene Melnyk’s wallet to pony up large lump sums of money, but that is just the way it works now.

Realistically this team cannot afford to lose Thomas Chabot. In fact, this team cannot afford to lose another young star. I don’t think the fanbase could handle it. As fans, we are tired of getting attached to star players and then watching them get traded when salary demands exceed poor Eugene’s capabilities. So with all that being said, it is critically important for the team to re-sign the young defenseman if it has any chance of smoothing over some of the pain in the fanbase. If this team really and truly wants to show their fans that they are committed to keeping their young stars and that they are committed to running a succesful hockey organization it will all start with the signing of Thomas Chabot. It will all start by ending the conveyer belt of star players leaving Ottawa.

Sens fans, what are your thoughts on the Thomas Chabot situation in Ottawa? How will it all unfold? Will the Ottawa Senators be able to keep him long-term? Does an offer-sheet worry you? Let us know in the comment section below!