Senators make Matt Duchene long-term contract offer

The Hockey Night in Canada panel looks at the biggest news around the league, with the Ottawa Senators apparently offering a contract to Matt Duchene and the Maple Leafs on the hunt for another defenceman.

We’re nearing decision time for the Ottawa Senators when it comes to two of their biggest stars, and the question remains: Are forwards Matt Duchene and Mark Stone part of the Senators’ future?

It was reported earlier this week that Ottawa’s general manager, Pierre Dorion, flew out west to meet with Duchene’s agent, Pat Brisson. According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, a long-term offer was put on the table.

“Told the visit was for Pierre Dorion to show how serious the Ottawa Senators are in re-signing Matt Duchene,” Kypreos said during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “And along with those discussions came an offer. I’m told it’s in the ballpark or the vicinity of $64 million over eight years.”

With that offer, Duchene would count for $8 million against the salary cap.

“I deem it certainly as a fair offer for Matt Duchene,” said Kypreos.

Timing will be crucial here, as the Senators are in an interesting situation heading towards the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25. Both Duchene and Stone are cornerstone players this young team would be smart to build around, but are also big names that would garner plenty of rental interest from playoff-bound teams should they inform Dorion of their desire to test the open market.

“I would think that would probably come with a soft deadline as well,” Kypreos said of Duchene’s offer. “If this isn’t the basis to get a long-term deal done, I would think Pierre Dorion would need at least two weeks to shop him and get the best deal available.”

Stone and Duchene are the Senators’ top two scoring leaders. Stone, 26, leads the way with 22 goals and 50 points with 28-year-old Duchene just behind him (20 goals, 46 points).

So, what of Stone’s status?

“I think that they’re following a similar path with Mark Stone,” said Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. “They met with Stone on Monday, a couple of days before they met with Matt Duchene. I believe they also presented something that they are willing to take a look at, an idea of where the Senators are willing to go.”

After plenty of speculation about Stone’s future as a Senator last off-season, the two sides settled on a one-year contract worth $7.35 million. The agreement, which was signed before an arbitration ruling in August, got Stone back in a Senators sweater but didn’t answer any questions about his long-term goals with the franchise.

“I’m not as certain about the numbers as Nick reports with Duchene,” explained Friedman of the contract talks between Stone and the Senators this time around, “but I would have to assume that for Stone it’s probably higher. But I think that they’re really trying, there’s no question about it. There’s some optimism there, we’ll see, and when Stone gets back from the road trip, we’ll see what the next phase of that is going to be.”

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