According to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, contract negotiations between the Ottawa Senators and pending unrestricted free agents Mark Stone and Matt Duchene are set to heat up in the near future.
Dreger tweeted Thursday that talks between Senators and the two players will become more serious in the next two-to-three weeks with the Feb. 25 trade deadline looming. He added all parties need to weigh their options.
Stone, 26, currently leads the Senators with 19 goals and 45 points in 41 games this season and has a team-best plus-11 rating. The right winger signed a one-year, $7.35 million contract in the summer to avoid arbitration and became eligible to sign an extension on Jan. 1.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported earlier this week that Stone was close to signing a long-term extension in August but the two sides couldn't work out the structure of the deal ahead of the arbitration meeting.
Stone said Tuesday he'd like to stay in the nation's capital.
“This is the only place I’ve ever played,” Stone said. “I’ve loved living in the city of Ottawa, I love playing for this team, so that’s all I can say to that. I’ve loved my time here and, hopefully, it can continue.”
Duchene, acquired in Nov. 2017 in a blockbuster trade with the Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators, has been eligible for an extension since July 1. He has 16 goals and 40 points in 35 games this season while missing time due to a groin injury.
TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie reported in November that the two sides were progressing on an extension and said his guess would be a maximum term of eight years with an average annual value of $8 million to $9 million on Duchene's new deal.
The 27-year-old, who the Senators traded their 2019 first-round pick to acquire, is currently playing out the final season of the five-year, $30 million contract he signed with the Avalanche in 2013.
Ryan Dzingel, who sits third among Senators forwards in points behind Stone and Duchene, is also slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The Senators, who fell 4-3 in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night, sit last in the Atlantic Division with 35 points through 41 games this season.