Sens avoid arbitration with Schaefer

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Ask any Senators forward for a list of preferred linemates the last three seasons and -- after the political correctness was over and done -- most would mention Peter Schaefer near the top.

Now, all of them are going to have the chance to play with him again.

The 29-year-old left winger -- known for an uncanny ability to win battles along the board and his pass-first unselfishness -- became the fourth Senator to avoid arbitration by signing a last-minute deal yesterday.

Schaefer was inked to four-year deal worth $8.4 million (all terms US). Schaefer will get $1.7 million this season and $2.1 million, $2.3 million and $2.3 million in the subsequent years of the contract. Prior to the agreement, he was the last unsigned player from the 2005-06 squad.

"We're happy we got him to a multi-year contract as that takes him out of potential unrestricted free agency next year," GM John Muckler said. "Peter is a great player -- we've made a commitment to him and he's made a commitment to us. We're very satisfied."

Schaefer could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Like Chris Kelly, Chris Neil and Antoine Vermette before him, Schaefer opted to pass on the unpleasantness of a hearing, which he was scheduled for yesterday.

It appears he accepted less -- the Islanders' Mike York was earlier awarded a $2.8 million salary by the arbitrator -- for the security Ottawa was offering.

A speedy skater with a defensive conscience, Schaefer was acquired in a trade that sent defenceman Sami Salo to the Canucks in 2002. The six-year NHL veteran is coming off his best offensive season, scoring 20 goals and 30 assists while being one of five Senators to play in all 82 games.

Schaefer also contributed seven points (two goals) in the team's 10 playoff games.

"We also now have contracts not coming due at the same time, with the longer term signings of Neil, Vermette and Schaefer," Muckler said. "I'd say we're now ready for training camp."


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