The Ottawa Senators are still looking for common ground in contract talks with Jared Cowen and the team believes its latest offer - a four-year proposal - is fair for the restricted free agent defenceman.
"I think we've really closed the gap on their first number and they have just kind of come off their first number minimal, so again I don't want to shut off negotiations with them and say this is it," assistant general manager Tim Murray said on Friday.
"But in my belief, we made such a great try in our last proposal. We're right at the end of our internal cap - and the comparables to what other guys have got the last three and four years coming out of entry level - and our last offer was right at the top of the majority of those guys."
The Ottawa Sun reported last month that the Senators tabled an eight-year, $28 million contract offer as both sides looked to get a deal done before the start of training camp. The Sun added that while the deal was not rejected, nothing had been done and both sides had exchanged 'several proposals.'
"We have talked different length of contract," explained Murray. "We started with an eight-year deal, they thought they were leaving to much money on the table and that's fair - it's hard to gauge for them where he is going to be his first year of UFA for them which is five years.
"So then we both started talking four-year deals. I have no problem saying that. I think four years is fair to both sides. He gets to establish himself as what they believe is a top player. He'll have once year of restricted free agency after the four-year deal and he can hit a home run. And in the meantime, he can be making very competitive dollars compared to his peer group. I think we're both on the same side on rhe term. We certainly are not on the same wave length with dollars."
Cowen, 22, played seven games with the Senators last season after recovering from surgery for a torn labrum in his hip. He suffered the injury while playing with the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators and had surgery in mid-November.
He's played 90 games with the Senators, tallying six goals and 18 points with a minus-3 rating and 68 penalty minutes.