Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Muckler is alive after all: Sens re-sign Havlat, Fisher

Sens fans, we can breathe a little easier this afternoon, as the team has announced they have signed forwards Mike Fisher and Martin Havlat to new contracts. Financial terms were not disclosed for Fisher's three year deal, but the word is Havlat has signed a one-year contract worth $2.6 million.

Locking up Fisher, who's perceived as one of the locker room leaders, for three years is a tremendous move for the club. With the departure of Todd White, it's expected that Fish will step into the number two center role. There's been some questions about his health and offensive upside, but I think, given the opportunity, he can rise to the occasion. His consistently strong work ethic, strong face off skills (a gaping hole on this team), good physical game, and superb forechecking abilities make him someone who the Sens need to have around for the long term.

He looked to be on the verge of coming into his own after the 2002-03 season, when he registered career highs across the board, but an injury shortened his season. Having said that, he was one of the shining stars in the team's overwise unmemorable 2004 playoffs. Fisher was, night in and night out, their best player, and scored the biggest goal of the series with an overtime winner in game six. Obviously, others noticed as well, because he was a member of Team Canada in this past spring's World Hockey Championship tournament. Assuming he can stay healthy, I don't see why he wouldn't have a career year this coming season.

Though I can see why some might want to get Havlat under a long term deal, I think a one year contract is the best situation at this time. If he continues to mature as a player, and his game becomes both more consistent and well rounded, then a multi-year contract should be persued, but until then, monitoring his development closely is ideal. As it stands, his offensive game is ridiculously good, and he's probably one of the best in the league in that sense. However, he also takes bad penalties, is too often a defensive liability, and can go nights completely unnoticed.

In addition, in order to lock up a player like Havlat, you're probably looking up at least $3 mil a year, and likely closer to $3.5. The Sens have numerous issues with other players who will be eligable for UFA status coming up that should take precedence over Havlat, who's not yet at that point. Throw in the Marian Hossa saga that has caused me considerable headache today, and you have a situation where the team has to be careful not to overcommitt when it's not necessary.

EDIT: It also looks like Marian Hossa has filed for arbitration, as expected. Let's see if he can get that Jerome Iginla money.

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