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Sens owner: We’re the ‘smart ones’ for avoiding free-agent busts

Eugene Melnyk

According to Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, all this talk about his team having the lowest cap payroll in the NHL is pointless, since GM Bryan Murray has said that “there’s nothing out there that he could actually spend money on” anyway.

Besides, the Senators will need financial flexibility in the future, when their young players need new contracts. The club’s spending will “skyrocket” once that happens, promised Melnyk.

And at any rate, it’s not like free agency is how all the great teams are built.

“You know, look, everybody keeps talking about money, money, money, and we just keep telling everybody, ‘Take a look at all these big signings that happened in the last couple of years,”’ said Melnyk.

“I mean, we’re looking like the smart ones. Some of those [unrestricted free agents] that were out there just didn’t pan out. I’m not gonna name the names. You know. Take a look at the players that got those big contracts and what they’re doing now, after they got their big contracts.

“I’m not in the least embarrassed about us spending at the bottom. I’m happy, because we’ll be able to spend more in the future.”

Melnyk is certainly right that a number of the big, recent free-agent signings have turned out poorly. Think David Clarkson in Toronto and Vincent Lecavalier in Philadelphia.

At the same time, there’s a decided relationship between winning and spending money, so it will be interesting to see how the Sens’ budget looks in a few years, should the team find itself in a go-for-it position.

After all, while the foundations of championship teams like the Blackhawks and Kings were laid in the draft, they did add big contracts like Marian Hossa’s and Jeff Carter’s to help put them over the top.

So, what if Sens management went to ownership and asked for more money?

“We’ve got it,” said Melnyk. “Not a problem.”

Related: ‘Any idiot’ can spend to the cap, says Sens owner