The restricted free agent market might finally be showing some cracks. The Ottawa Senators have signed RFA forward Colin White to a six-year contract. The contract will carry an average annual value of $4.75MM and breaks down as follows:
- 2019-20: $4.0MM
- 2020-21: $4.0MM
- 2021-22: $4.75MM
- 2022-23: $4.75MM
- 2023-24: $4.75MM
- 2024-25: $6.25MM
White, 22, was one of the players ineligible for an offer sheet this summer and will lose just a single year of unrestricted free agency with this deal. At $28.5MM it will however take the title of the largest contract Senators GM Pierre Dorion has ever given out, eclipsing the four-year, $20.75MM deal he signed Mike Hoffman to in 2016 (the Senators would pay out just $9.45MM before trading Hoffman).
The team’s trade history when it comes to expensive players will be the first thing coming to mind for many Senators fans, but there is no doubt that this contract is a step in the right direction for the franchise. White, selected 21st overall in 2015, broke out last season with 14 goals and 41 points in 71 games during his first full NHL season. That production will only likely increase in the coming years as White takes on more and more responsibility for the Senators as their presumptive first-line center.
A $4.75MM cap hit ties White as the second highest paid player on the Ottawa roster, behind only Bobby Ryan and right alongside goaltender Craig Anderson—as long as you don’t count the injured Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik contracts. It means there will be plenty of pressure on the young forward to continue his development as a top-line player and puts a good chunk of the offensive burden squarely upon his shoulders.
With White signed, the team can start to look towards their next big name inching closer to free agency—Thomas Chabot. The 22-year old is heading into the final year of his entry-level contract and is already one of the premier defensemen in the league. If Ottawa is truly committed to retaining their stars and building a competitive roster in the next few years, signing Chabot to a long-term deal is key.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet was first to report the two sides were close.