Forward Ryan Dzingel agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Ottawa Senators on Friday with an average annual value of $1.8 million.
"It was awesome for me and I respect the way they did it," Dzingel told the Senators website. "I'm kind of at a loss for words. I'm just really happy and excited to be back, especially for two more years so I can not only play well this year but I can prove myself even more the next year."
Dzingel, who was a restricted free agent, avoided a salary arbitration hearing in Toronto on Friday morning. He will be paid $1.5 million this season and $2.1 million in 2018-19.
"I think going into arbitration we kind of felt that it was just going to be a one-year deal, but having the confidence from [general manager Pierre Dorion] and the coach (Guy Boucher) to offer that two-year deal was great for me," Dzingel said. "It shows the confidence that they have in me, so when I heard that, I was very excited. I can't wait to prove myself and play even better than last season."
Dzingel, 25, set NHL career highs with 14 goals and 18 assists in 81 games with the Senators last season and three points (two goals, one assist) in 15 games during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Obviously you don't want to go in there and be told about all the terrible parts of your game, but I think you understand that if you go in there, it is a business," Dzingel said of the arbitration process. "I don't think most guys would take it to heart, and I don't feel I would have either. Pierre handled it really well and wanted to get it done and we wanted to get it done to and show respect for them as an organization, so anytime you can avoid this process, it's great."
A seventh-round pick (No. 204) in the 2011 NHL Draft, Dzingel has 17 goals and 24 assists in 111 NHL games, all with the Senators.
Video: OTT@PIT, Gm7: Dzingel pots rebound to tie the game
"First of all, we're really happy," Dorion told the Senators website. "Ryan has shown through the course of his first full season with us that he was an important member of our team. Getting this done on a two-year contract brings security. He probably feels that he gave up money if he produces at the same level on the second year and we probably got a bargain on the first year.
"If we went to arbitration, we were afraid the ruling would be closer to their number than our number. Now we get a happy player that will produce for us for the next two years and someone who has shown with his speed, talent, and hopefully he can convert on a few more breakaways that we'll have a pretty special player."
The Senators also avoided arbitration with forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who agreed to a three-year, $9.1 million contract on July 17.
"I think having a lot of good players is a good thing for the Ottawa Senators," Dorion said. "We hope that Clarke MacArthur comes back (from injury); all indications are along the lines that he will be back, but if he chooses to go another direction then we'll respect that.
"I think Ryan gives us the security of someone who can play on our top two lines, which he has shown over the course of last season and that he can produce. There was an adjustment period for him but he still scored 14 goals and 32 points, and because of that we feel comfortable that he's going to take another step forward in the next two years and even become a better player."
Dzingel said he had surgery on his wrist to remove a bone and got back into skating two weeks ago.
"I'm just going to do what I always do and I'm not going to change my mentality at all," he said. "I always play with my back against the wall and with a chip on my shoulder, so it's not a comfort zone anymore. I want to prove to the team that they were right, and the only way I can do that is by producing on the ice."