Suddenly, the Senators have a crowd up front.
Winger Kaspars Daugavins avoided a trip to an arbitration hearing Tuesday by signing a one-year, one-way $635,000 deal with the Senators Monday morning, but he may have bought Bobby Butler a ticket out of town in the process.
With 13 forwards on one-way contracts, the Senators have 48 hours to decide if they’re going to exercise their right to buy out a player — in this case it would be Butler — after settling with somebody who filed for arbitration.
Scheduled to make $1.2 million in 2012-13, Butler, 25, can be bought out at just one-third of his contract because of his age. The cap hit would be $200,000 over the next two years, but that’s much cheaper than him playing in the minors on a one-way deal.
Under the terms of the CBA — which doesn’t expire until Sept. 15 — the Senators have until Wednesday to decide if they want to buy out one player. Teams don’t use the tactic often, but it is available to GM Bryan Murray.
Butler had only six goals and 10 assists in 56 games in 2011-12 and a look at the depth chart indicates there isn’t any room for him next season even if captain Daniel Alfredsson (who is expected to return) does decide to hang up his skates.
The Senators have to figure out where Butler is going to fit in the next couple of days. Prospects Jakob Silfverberg, Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad and Stefan Noesen are all expected to push for spots in September.
Butler just hasn’t gotten the job done.
The situation might be different if the Senators were able to get Daugavins, 24, on a two-way contract, but they decided to settle because there was a good chance he would have been awarded a one-way deal in arbitration.
“Both sides got a number they thought was fair,” said assistant GM Tim Murray Monday afternoon. “We don’t have to go through the process of criticizing a player that you want in your organization and he doesn’t have to hear that or not understand the process completely.
“It’s good to get it done at a number that we liked and they obviously liked the one-way contract. Let’s hope he comes into camp ready to go.”
Daugavins struggled to be a consistent contributor last season. He played 65 games, but he was a healthy scratch in the playoffs with the exception of one game against the New York Rangers in the seven-game series.
The crowd up front means Daugavins has a battle ahead.
“He has to come in like last year when he got called up. He has to be a responsible player. He has to play hard and he has to be effective on the penalty kill,” said Murray.
“If those things happen, maybe his role can grow from that situation. I think the coaches respect his game and aren’t afraid to put him on the ice certainly. Hopefully, he can grow his game from being a defensive player and a penalty killer to showing some of the skill that he has shown at every league except the NHL.”
The only player left to sign is restricted free agent Stephane Da Costa. He’ll get a two-way deal and Murray is confident something will be done soon.
“I don’t see any problems arising. Hopefully that gets done sooner rather than later and I think both sides agree with that,” said Murray.