OTTAWA - After lengthy and sometimes ugly contract negotiations, the Ottawa Senators and hometown defenceman Marc Methot have finally reached common ground.
The Senators announced Monday that Methot has signed a US$19.6-million, four-year contract extension with the team. Methot will count $4.9 million against the salary cap through the 2018-19 season.
The Senators have long said they were interested on locking up Methot, who often plays on the team's top defensive pairing with captain Erik Karlsson. But after some unpleasant aspects of the negotiations became public, and with Methot becoming a free agent in the off-season, his future in Ottawa was far from certain.
"There was doubt sometimes, I'd be lying if I said otherwise," Methot told reporters Monday prior to Ottawa's home game against Carolina.
The nastiness in the negotiations happened just before training camp when Senators general manager Bryan Murray told TSN's Bob McKenzie he'd trade Methot rather than lose him to free agency. Methot was then quoted saying: "It's at the stage where I'm really not comfortable that the team wants to do anything (on a new deal)."
Methot's former agent, Larry Kelly, then revealed some of the contract terms that had allegedly been discussed. The Senators disputed the claims and suggested Kelly was negotiating in bad faith through the media.
"We've always felt we want to keep Marc around, but you see stuff like this and you say, 'Is it worth it?,'" assistant general manager Pierre Dorion said at the time.
Methot said the two sides didn't talk much during the season, though much of that was due to Methot's back injury that has limited him to just 17 games heading into Monday's contest.
With Methot now healthy and the trade deadline approaching, the Senators and the defenceman's camp stepped up talks, culminating on a deal over the weekend.
"It just feels good that it's over with now and I can just focus on hockey," Methot said.
The deal includes a modified 10-team no-trade list. Murray told reporters Monday that he feels the extension is fair to both sides.
"It's a term we liked, the money pretty much that Marc wanted so I think both parties leave the negotiations, which sometimes are tricky, somewhat satisfied that we got the job done," he said.
Methot said he believes he left money on the table.
"But that was a commitment that I was willing to make to play here," he continued. "To me it's a privilege to play in Ottawa and play in front of my family and friends, so that was a little sacrifice I was willing to make to stick around."
Methot has five assists and a plus-eight rating this season.
In 414 NHL games, the six-foot-three, 230-pound Ottawa native has 15 goals and 75 assists. He has added one goal and four assists in 10 playoff games with Ottawa.
"He's a very valuable guy," Murray said. "He can skate, he's a big rangy guy, he can get back and get loose pucks. When Erik takes the offensive game to the net in the opposite zone, Marc is able to get back because of his skating ability."
Prior to joining the Senators, Methot had spent his entire NHL career with the Blue Jackets, recording seven goals, 55 assists and 208 penalty minutes in 275 regular-season games.
Methot was drafted by Columbus with its sixth-round pick (168th overall) in the 2003 NHL draft.