Sens franchise player?

Marian Hossa has filed for salary arbitration Wednesday, turning down a three-year, $11.9-million...

Marian Hossa has filed for salary arbitration Wednesday, turning down a three-year, $11.9-million deal from the Ottawa Senators. (File Photo)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

If the Senators want to keep Marian Hossa, they're going to have to open the vault. And if they don't want to open the vault, they may have to trade him.

Hossa filed for arbitration before yesterday's 5 p.m. deadline, turning down a three-year, $11.9-million (all figures US) deal. He would like a contract close to the three-year, $21-million deal that Jarome Iginla got from the Calgary Flames. Sources say the club offered him $3.6 million in each of the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons and a raise to $4.7 million in 2007-08.

"What the Senators have to decide is whether they think Marian Hossa is a franchise player," Hossa's agent, Jiri Crha, told the Sun yesterday. "Everybody knows that he's going to be (an unrestricted free agent), along with (Wade) Redden and (Zdeno) Chara.

"I'm sure they want to keep all of those guys and they're going to talk about long deals with them. Everybody knows what kind of player Marian Hossa is and the job he can do on the ice. I believe he is a franchise player. He's been very productive for them and he's earned every dollar that he was paid in his last contract. Well, now the Senators have a decision to make."

Sources say Hossa could score a $5-million reward if the case goes to an arbitrator. Then the Senators will have to decide if they want to pay him that much or deal him.

Hossa was scheduled to make $3.45 million last season before the 24% salary rollback in the new CBA and will be sitting in a good spot if this does go to arbitration.

Senators GM John Muckler and assistant GM Peter Chiarelli have the option of trying to get a long-term deal done with Hossa before the hearing because they would like to keep him off the unrestricted free- agent market in 2006.

"I would think if Marian Hossa goes to unrestricted free agency, he's going to be pretty valuable and that would be a pretty good position for us to be in next summer," said Crha. "But Marian Hossa likes playing in Ottawa and he'd like to be with the Senators. He's got the same type of numbers as Iginla and everybody knows what he can do."

In a strange twist, sources say the Senators are attempting to move centre Bryan Smolinski and his $2.25-million salary after not buying him out last week.


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