The Senators signed their backup goalie to a league-minimum salary yesterday, then vowed to continue moving toward a deal that will satisfy their best forward.
A long-term, arbitration-avoiding contract for Marian Hossa will take them closer to the other end of the NHL pay scale, however, especially in light of the five-year, $27-million (all terms US) deal Rick Nash signed with Columbus this week and yesterday's three-year, $20-million agreement between Joe Thornton and the Boston Bruins.
"Obviously, we're working on that every day and we will continue to do so right up to the arbitration date," Senators GM John Muckler said of a pact with Hossa, who has turned down a three-year, $11.9-million offer and is comfortable having his financial fate decided by an independent ruling later this month.
"I feel confident we can get something done," Muckler said. "We want Marian here, and when I read him say he likes Ottawa and wants to stay here, I have to take him at his word and try to make that happen.
"I do think you have to say the Nash signing was a surprise. When you look at the player's age (21) and the years he has played (two) ... it certainly doesn't help (negotiations with Hossa)."
Meanwhile yesterday, Muckler received a signed fax from goalie Ray Emery, who has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract.
Emery will make the league-low $450,000 with the Senators and a qualifying offer of $55,000 if he is returned to AHL Binghamton, but the team is counting on him serving as Dominik Hasek's backup.
"I think Ray has something to prove ... we want him to be in position to put some numbers on the board and renegotiate a better deal next year," Muckler said. "It's a great opportunity. It's up to him to put himself in position to be No. 1 (post Hasek)."
Emery is more thrilled about getting his "foot in the door" with the Senators then the fact he is about to become a half-millionaire. He arrives in Ottawa today -- more than a month before camp begins -- and will begin training with Senators conditioning coach Randy Lee and skating at the Sensplex on Monday.
"I'm excited about the situation I'm in right now, about what I've been told and the moves Ottawa has made in making the position available," Emery said from Hamilton. "I've got to make the team, get off to a good start then prove I can play in the league. From there, hopefully there will be a slot for me there in the future."
Muckler's immediate future includes getting a deal done with defenceman Anton Volchenkov, who earlier had threatened to play in Russia but is now said to be close to staying in Ottawa.
"I don't foresee a problem with that one," said Muckler. "I think that's going to happen."
Also requiring new contracts are Jason Spezza as well as Chris Neil, which is supposedly close.
Asked about working on long-term deals for defencemen Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden -- both eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer -- Muckler said: "That's something I really don't want to comment on at this particular time."
As for why Ottawa has not joined in on the free-agent frenzy that has hit the rest of the league, Muckler said he felt there was no need.
"We're satisfied with our team, we felt we had the best players available," he said. "We just have to get them signed."
And Muckler expects that to happen without anybody missing even the first day of camp.
"I do believe that, at this time," he said. "But that's subject to change, of course."