It's not every day that the Ottawa Senators back up the BRINKS truck.
That, however, is exactly what the notoriously frugal franchise did on Friday morning, agreeing to terms with forward, Drake Batherson on a six-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $5 million.
Batherson, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Senators back in 2017, now becomes the highest-paid forward on the team with his shiny new deal and is tied to Ottawa through the 2026-17 season.
Of course, giving a player with as little experience as Batherson such an exorbitant term is always a risk. But the 23-year-old certainly showed enough promise in 2021 to suggest he'll ultimately be worth it.
Batherson finally stuck around as a full-time NHLer last season after shuffling between the AHL and the big leagues from 2018-2020, rewarding management with 17 goals and 34 points in 56 games. The Indiana-native also emerged as a viable power play threat for a Senators attack in desperate need of one, racking up 15 points on the man advantage while serving only eight minutes in penalties himself all year.
While Batherson's defensive play at even-strength could certainly use a tune-up, the young winger still has miles of runway upon which to grow. And given his age and the length of his new deal, Batherson's trajectory appears to mirror that of the team he plays for.
The Senators, however, are not out of the woods here.
Despite adding a cool $5 million to their books ahead of next season, Eugene Melnyk's team still finds themselves well under the salary cap floor with only a few weeks left until training camps open. Brady Tkachuk remaining unsigned accounts for some of that, of course. But there's been a noted lack of movement between the Senators and their star forward when it comes to a potential agreement of late, leading many to wonder if Tkachuk will report to camp without a deal in place.
Ottawa may have put out one fire. But their work is far from complete.