Ottawa Senators centre Kyle Turris, left, celebrates his second-period goal with Clarke MacArthur against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 16, 2014 in Ottawa. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press
The Ottawa Senators have a tight budget and need to hunt for bargains. Well, lucky for them they've already found one sweet deal in their new top line.
This year the trio of Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur is providing some serious bang for the Senators’ buck.
They lead all Sens forwards in ice time and have scored 50 goals with a combined salary of $11.85 million.
Contracts for top line
You really appreciate those numbers when you compare them to Ottawa's former top line. This year Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Colin Greening have only 23 goals with a higher combined salary of $12.1 million — less than half of the production.
That trio isn't playing together right now but their play has left a lot to be desired at most times this year. Plus Thursday night’s game was a perfect example of who floats the team’s offensive boat now, as Turris, Ryan and MacArthur each scored a goal and MacArthur notched an assist.
Turris has been red-hot with points in nine of his last 11 games and he looks like a player that warranted the third overall pick by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2007.
His 37 points in 48 games this season is already a career high for the B.C. native. That production, combined with a price tag of $3.5 million per year through the 2017-18 season, is a major bargain in the NHL.
His team-best plus-17 rating is also impressive considering he plays against the opposition’s top line most nights.
His left-winger, Clarke MacArthur, was an under-the-radar free agent signing who has a decent price tag of $3.25 million per year.
Thanks to a nice chemistry with Turris, the former third-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres is just four goals shy of his career-high of 21 scored in the 2010-11 season with Toronto.
Clarke MacArthur's NHL stats
His plus-11 rating is also far better than any other season he’s had in the NHL.
Head coach Paul MacLean has raved about MacArthur’s game and uses him and Turris in all situations.
Bobby Ryan, meanwhile, was acquired just hours after MacArthur, but his arrival came with a higher profile. His annual salary of $5.1 million is also much higher than his linemates, but like MacArthur his contract expires at the end of next year.
Anaheim’s former second overall pick is on pace to score 30 goals for a fifth time in six seasons, which is hard to find.
For a budget team like Ottawa, which sets its own salary cap and sits among the league’s lowest spenders, cost-efficiency is a key to success.
Now the team needs to lock the three players up for the foreseeable future.
The captain, Jason Spezza, is making $7 million a year through next season and Milan Michalek is making more than $4 million with a contract ending after this season.
They were on the top line with various other wingers, including the former captain Daniel Alfredsson. But each player’s role with the Senators has diminished and their contracts are far from bargains.
Goalie Craig Anderson and defenceman Marc Methot are also unrestricted free agents at the end of next season but general manager Bryan Murray has to think, of all his priorities, locking up Ryan and MacArthur has to be near the top.
Like any great relationship, sometimes you just have to realize when you have a good thing going. Turris, Ryan and MacArthur just click and they do it on the cheap.