Neil, Sens agree to deal

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

The Senators avoided a fight with tough guy Chris Neil yesterday.

The gritty winger signed a three-year contract worth $3.3 million (all terms US) before his scheduled arbitration hearing yesterday, leaving only winger Peter Schaefer to be signed from last year's club.

Schaefer is scheduled to have an arbitration hearing tomorrow.

The Senators signed centre Chris Kelly to a one-year deal worth $725,000 Tuesday, avoiding his arbitration hearing.

Neil, 27, is coming off a career year with the Senators, his fourth with the club, which saw him set personal single-season bests for goals (16), assists (17) and points (33).

He also became the Senators' all-time penalty minutes leader with 776 after amassing 204 in 2005-06.

"I've worked hard in every off-season to get in better shape and be a better player and I think it's paid off every year for me," Neil said. "I'm planning on having an even better year next year. Good things happen when you compete hard."

Neil said he was helped last season by the presence of enforcer Brian McGrattan.

"It takes some of the pressure off me as a fighter and I'm able to concentrate on playing a little more. But I'm still out there being a physical presence and my role doesn't change a whole lot. I get to focus on driving to the net hard and putting (the other teams') D through the end boards."

The new deal will pay the winger from Flesherton $1 million next season, followed by $1.1 million and $1.2 million.

"He's a millionaire. He's doubled his income," said agent Don Reynolds of Uptown Sports Management.

"He (transformed) from being an enforcer to being a real effective player and he's been rewarded for it," Reynolds added. "We're proud of him."

The Senators also signed defenceman Jamie Allison to a one-year contract. The 31-year-old native of Lindsay joins his sixth NHL team. He finished last season with the Panthers.

Ottawa also re-signed forward Cory Pecker, who had 23 points in 24 games last season with the Senators' AHL team in Binghamton.


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