Senators RFA Alex Formenton signs one-year contract with Swiss team

Former Ottawa Senators forward Alex Formenton is seen in 2022. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Ottawa Senators restricted free agent Alex Formenton has signed a one-year contract with Switzerland’s Ambrì-Piotta Hockey Club for the remainder of the 2022-23 season.

The signing comes after the Senators and the forward failed to reach an agreement on a contract before Dec. 1, making him ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the season.

Formenton, now 23, was on Canada’s team that won gold at the 2018 world junior championships.

In September, when asked by The Athletic‘s Pierre LeBrun if an ongoing investigation into allegations that members of the 2018 Canadian world junior team took part in a group sexual assault was influencing the lack of progress in talks, Senators GM Pierre Dorion offered this answer:

“With all due respect, I think they’re totally two different things,” Dorion told LeBrun. “One’s a contract issue and the other is a Hockey Canada issue that I can’t comment on until the NHL investigation is over.”

The Swiss club acknowledged that Formenton was involved in an investigation relating to the 2018 world junior team, saying in a statement – translated by Sportsnet from Italian – that should the ongoing investigations by police reveal previously unknown information, the team and player reserve the right to re-evaluate the contract.

Sportsnet has learned the Senators attempted to trade their 2017 second-round pick (47th overall) before the deadline, but did not get any takers. His NHL rights remain with the Senators unless he is traded.

The Barrie, Ont., native appeared to have a breakout season in 2021-22, with 18 goals and 14 assists for 32 points in 79 games. In 109 career games, all with the Senators, he has 23 goals and 16 assists for 39 points.

Formenton, along with other restricted free agents Josh Norris, Erik Brannstrom and Mathieu Joseph, received qualifying offers from the Senators in the summer. All declined the offer, which is not unusual, and those offers expired on July 15. All but Formenton were subsequently able to negotiate separate contracts with the Senators, Norris most notably signing an eight-year, $63.6-million deal.

The last time a restricted free agent was not signed by the Dec. 1 deadline was during the 2019-20 season, when Jesse Puljujarvi and Julius Honka were each refused trade requests by their respective teams (Edmonton and Dallas), and elected to play overseas for the remainder of the season.

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