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Da Costa deal gives Paris native more time to grow

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators

Stephane Da Costa is still very much a work in progress.

And the Ottawa Senators remain invested in seeing the finished product.

With that thought in mind, the club inked the Paris native to a new one-year, two-way contract today. The deal pays $800,000 if the 23-year-old forward stays with the big club in Ottawa and $80,000 if he returns to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League for a second season.

Da Costa started the 2011-12 season in the National Hockey League and produced three goals and five points in 22 games before being assigned to Binghamton. In 46 games there, he totalled 13 goals and 36 points.

"He’s coming out of his entry level deal and he played some games in the National Hockey League, but he had to play in the American league to refine his game and get stronger," Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray said in reference to the only French-born player ever signed by the organization. "He still has a ways to go in that department, but we recognize his talent level and his offensive ability with the puck and his vision on the ice. It’s all first class."

The Senators originally signed Da Costa as a college free agent on March 31, 2011. He was hotly pursued by a reported 20 NHL teams after recording 30 goals and 60 assists over two seasons at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., where he led the school to its first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament appearance. In just his second game with the Warriors, Da Costa recorded a five-goal game, including a natural hat trick.

He has also represented his native France at the last four IIHF World Hockey Championships. In the 2012 tournament played in Finland and Sweden, Da Costa recorded a goal and seven points as the French placed ninth, their highest finish at the hockey worlds since 1953, a span of nearly six decades.

"We just feel if he can get stronger, get used to playing with higher competition and become a more consistent player away from the puck, that he’s got a chance to play in the National Hockey League," said Murray.

Da Costa was the last of the Senators' restricted free agents to come to terms on a new deal. Earlier this week, Latvian winger Kaspars Daugavins avoided arbitration by inking a one-year, one-way contract to stay in Ottawa.

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