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Senators sign forward Heatley to six-year, $45-million extension

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TORONTO (AP) -The Ottawa Senators wanted no part of what the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers went through last season.

After seeing Buffalo lose Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, and what happened with Ryan Smyth in Edmonton, the Senators locked up 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley before he became an unrestricted free agent next summer.

With a self-imposed deadline of opening night, Heatley agreed to terms on a six-year, $45-million extension with the Senators around 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday - 2 1/2 hours before Ottawa's season opener at Toronto.

"The unrestricted guys in our system now, at 26 years of age, imagine - you're just getting a player that's coming into his own and he can walk on you," Senators general manager Bryan Murray Murray said shortly before Wednesday's game. "That's what happened in Buffalo for sure. You lose a Ryan Smyth (in Edmonton), who was a little older. But you have to try to look after the players you feel you can go forward with.

"And certainly Dany was one of those."

Heatley was in the final year of a deal that will pay him $5.5 million this season. The new deal, which is front-loaded, will pay an average of $7.5 million, tops on the Senators.

Heatley was acquired from Atlanta in a blockbuster deal in August 2005 in exchange for winger Marian Hossa. Heatley has scored 50 goals and had more than 100 points in the two seasons he's played for the Sens.

"I've really enjoyed my two years in Ottawa," Heatley said before the game. "I love the city, the fans, and the organization. I'm just thrilled and happy that we were able to get it done before the season started."

Next up for Murray's is center Jason Spezza, Heatley's linemate. Spezza will be a restricted free agent after the season.

"Yes, we're definitely going to talk at some point," Murray said. "I have talked to (Spezza's agent) already. They want to start the year. They envision a really good season out of Jason, so they want to capitalize on that a little bit and I totally understand."

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