Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot had a difficult season last year, sustaining an upper-body injury and scoring 11 points in 45 games while also worrying about his future in Ottawa.
But once Methot, who was in the final year of a four-year contract, agreed to an extension in February, it allowed him to turn the page.
"That was one of the most stressful things that I've had to deal with during my career," Methot told the Ottawa Citizen on Friday. "I'm not complaining about it, but it's not easy when you worry about your future and your security and that kind of stuff. All of that ties into it. Having that comfort now is just great, because I can just focus on playing and winning games.
"Last year was a bit of nightmare in terms of dealing with the injury, so it's finally nice to be going into the season healthy, and I'm in pretty good shape right now."
Methot and the Senators agreed on a four-year, $19.6 million contract, which coincided with Ottawa going 22-4-3 to end the regular season and clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Senators lost to the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the Eastern Conference First Round.
"It's huge, knowing we have a great group going into the season, not a lot of unknowns and we have a lot of experience after last year," Methot said. "You can't expect that [late-season winning streak] to just continue at the start of the season. You have to put the work in."
Methot said he likes the Senators' youth movement, including forwards Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Curtis Lazar.
"All the good teams have a good core of young players," he said. "It's all speed and we're certainly going to get that out of our young players. And as well as this team does in terms of drafting, I'm always impressed seeing the young [prospects] skating. There's reason to be excited simply because of that."