All the talk turned to action for the Ottawa Senators and Connor Brown.
With an arbitration hearing set for 9 a.m. Thursday, Senators’ general manager Pierre Dorion and Brown’s agent Jeff Jackson agreed to a three-year deal with an average annual value of $3.6 million per season late Wednesday night.
The deal will pay Brown, 26, $2.8 million in 2020-21 and $4 million per season in the final two years with a total value of $10.8 million. For his part, Brown was relieved to avoid the arbitration process and be a part of this team for the next three years as the organization prepares to take the next step.
This is a good deal both sides because it gives Brown security and is in the right range.
“I believe in what we’re doing in Ottawa, there’s nice pieces and I feel like I’m a good fit there,” Brown said Thursday in a Zoom call with reporters from his home in Toronto. “I felt like it was a good spot for me and for both sides. I’m glad we were able to get something sorted out.” Dorion had to makes sure if the club was going to keep him in the fold he had to fit within the club’s salary structure but that didn’t make the negotiations easy for Brown.
“Especially given all the circumstances with the uncertainty of the world right now,” he added. “That played a part but you feel relieved and excited that it’s all settled and we can get ready for next year.”
Normally, arbitration spurs a deal and this was no different. In briefs filed between the two sides, the Senators were asking the arbitrator to settle on $2.25 million for one year while Brown’s camp was seeking $4.8 million. He was scheduled to become a unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
“We’re very happy to have Connor back under contract,” said Dorion. “He brings a veteran presence to our lineup and is a player who can play in different situations. He’s durable, has a strong work ethic with great practice habits and is regarded as a leader by his teammates.
“His ability to play up and down the lineup while producing offensively is especially valuable to us as we continue our transition towards being a consistent winner.”
The Senators want Brown in the fold because he helps provide leadership. He was brought to the Senators last July in the deal that brought defenceman Nikita Zaitsev to Ottawa from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for blueliner Cody Ceci. The Senators see value in Brown, but didn’t want to overpay.
With the arrival of winger Evgenii Dadonov as an unrestricted free agent from the Florida Panthers last week, Brown is already going to get a little less ice time.
Last year, Brown got an opportunity to play more minutes under coach D.J. Smith because he was one of the more experienced players on the roster.
The deal was completed late Wednesday night between the #Sens and Brown’s camp. The hearing was scheduled for 9 AM today. Three years at $3.6M works both sides. I reported today I felt three years at $3.5M would get this done.
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) October 22, 2020
As suggested in this space Thursday morning, league executives felt a three-year deal with $3.5 million AAV would get this done. This deal is a healthy raise because Brown had a cap hit of $2.1 million last season and he knows he’s going to play an important role on this team as one of the older players.
He knows there’s a youth movement going on here with the likes of Drake Batherson, Josh Norris and Alex Formenton coming up the ranks.
“The timeline is hard to predict right now because a lot of the young kids like Batherson, Norris and these guys are just getting going. Whether they step in right away or they’re impactful players right away, they’re going to need some time,” said Brown. “It’s going to be depending how our team does.
“It’s hard to predict but I believe we’ve got good people, I believe in the coaching staff and that we’ve got good guys in that room. We’ll be doing things the right way. Hopefully, it turns around quicker and as quick as possible.”
Being a veteran in a dressing room with the likes of defenceman Thomas Chabot and winger Brady Tkachuk will be something different for Brown. One of the reasons the move here was good for him is the fact that Smith was a backer of Brown’s when they were together with the Leafs and felt he could handle expanded role.
“That’s a new role for me in the NHL and it goes by pretty quick,” Brown said. “I feel like I just stepped into the league. It’s a role I’m going to have to embrace. I’ve played with a lot of guys and been a part of some teams that have a good culture.
“I understand the impact of culture and how it translates into wins. I’ll do my best to try to provide leadership for a bunch of guys that are coming into the league. I know (Chabot and Tkachuk), they’re good buddies of mine, I thought last year they took steps forward. They’re good people and both team-first guys. The team is in good hands as far as character in the room.”
Getting Brown signed strikes another name off the list of RFA’s for Dorion. Now, the only two that remain are defenceman Christian Jaros and centre Chris Tierney. Both have filed for arbitration and having hearing scheduled next month. Jaros is supposed to appear Nov. 1 and Tierney’s is set for Nov. 8.
FILE: Connor Brown. Aaron Doster / USA TODAY Sports
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