Regardless of where they sit in the standings, it’s crunch time for Marc Methot and the Ottawa Senators.
Although the Sens and their No. 2 defenceman began negotiating a contract extension way back in early October, it will take the pressure of a deadline — in this case, the NHL’s March 2 trade cutoff — for the sides to come to terms or split ways.
Ottawa, which is 12 points out of playoff berth, cannot afford to let Methot walk for nothing, and general manger Bryan Murray has gone on record saying he will move Methot for a draft pick or a player if an agreement can’t be made.
“If we can compromise a little bit each way, we can get it done,” Murray told the Ottawa Citizen. “If we don’t, it will be difficult.”
And the player, who missed all but 15 games this season due to a reported back/hip injury and has already switched agents mid-talks, is getting antsy.
“I hope it settles quick,” Methot told the Citizen this week. “And I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t thinking about it every single day. This kind of stuff is hard to ignore, the potential of being moved is obviously real at this point. It’s no secret that I want to stay here. At this point, I’m leaving it all to my agent and the team to settle it.”
Methot’s agent is now Mike Liut, who will meet with the Senators front office Thursday, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, in effort to get something done.
Methot’s former agent, Larry Kelly, retired before the sides had gained much traction.
The 29-year-old Methot complements chance-taking captain Erik Karlsson well on Ottawa’s top pair but has seen little use on special teams lately. He has five assists and is a plus-4 this season on the heels of a career-best 23 points last year.
Like last summer, 2015’s crop of free agent defencemen will be thin, which gives Methot’s camp leverage.
The Rangers’ Marc Staal — another stay-at-home UFA-in-waiting — received a six-year extension at $5.75-million per season so that he wouldn’t stir a bidding war on July 1.
Back in the fall, prior to his battles with injury, Methot (currently a $3 million cap hit) was reportedly seeking a four-year pact worth more than $4.5 million per.