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NHL Notebook: Ottawa Senators sign Jake Sanderson to eight-year contract extension and candidates to bounce back from sophomore slumps

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
5 months ago
The Ottawa Senators signed defenceman Jake Sanderson to an eight-year contract extension, the club announced Wednesday.
The deal sees the 21-year-old earn an AAV of $8.050-million per year — an eye popping deal for someone who has played just 77 games in the NHL. He has the draft status to warrant such a deal and he’s shown more than enough promise so far in his career with four goals and 32 points in his first season of NHL action.
And as Daily Faceoff’s Mike McKenna opined, it’s time to embrace these kinds of deals as a new norm.
Swing big, Pierre, because this Sanderson kid looks good and the salary cap is about to explode.
I’m sure that’s the advice Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion received from his support staff in Canada’s capital. And I agree: defenseman Jake Sanderson’s new eight-year, $64.4 million contract – signed Wednesday – is a strong bet on a player that is just now scratching the surface of what he can do at the NHL level.
It’s taken me a while to get to this point. I’ve had a really hard time accepting contracts being handed out in advance of performance. Despite trying to be progressive in my own analysis, sometimes the old-school side of me wins out.
Remember when the New Jersey Devils gave big extensions to Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes? Both times I shook my head in disgust. I didn’t feel the players – in under two NHL seasons worth of work – had earned eight-year extensions north of $50 million.
But you know what? In retrospect, those contracts are now serious values for the Devils. It was smart business. Just like the eight-year, $66.8 million contract extension Senators forward Tim Stutzle signed in advance of the 2022-23 season.
I didn’t like that deal, either. Stutzle’s high watermark was just 58 points in a season – albeit at 20 years old. I knew he was good, but I wouldn’t have been willing to gamble upwards of $8 million a year on him.
But Dorion did, and the move already looks fantastic. Stutzle put up 90 points last year and tucked 39 goals. He’s improved defensively and at 21 years of age is a star player Ottawa can count on for years to come.
Simply put: I’ve been too stubborn to embrace calculated risks like the aforementioned contracts. I was wrong on Stutzle, Hughes, and Hischier. Which is why I’m all-in on the deal Sanderson just inked with the Senators.

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Who will break out of sophomore slumps?

The idea of sophomore slumps is a contentious idea. On one hand, some people don’t think they exist, while the other sees people staunchly believe it.
In my eyes, there’s more than enough evidence over the years and over multiple sports that this is, in fact, a thing.
And on Thursday, Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis looked at five players looking to bounce back from ones of their own: Lucas Raymond, Tanner Jeannot, Anton Lundell, Cole Sillinger, and Alexandre Carrier.
Here’s what he wrote about Jeannot:
The Bolts swung for the fences when they acquired Jeannot, trading five picks and defenseman Cal Foote to Nashville to bring him over for the playoff run. Jeannot struggled with just five goals and 14 points in 56 games with Nashville, but the hope was he’d find the form that saw him score 24 goals and 41 points the year before. Instead, he had just one goal and four points in 20 regular season games and had nothing to show for in three playoff outings with Tampa. The team signed him to a two-year extension at $2.665 million, which, if he was to hit 40 points again, would be an excellent steal. Jeannot is a physical player with 239 career penalty minutes in 172 games. Now, entering his third full NHL season, we’ll see if he can find the old magic again. If there’s any team that can turn a player’s career around, it’s Tampa.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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