|With a new contract in place, Kyle Turris couldn't be happier to be a part of the Senators lineup through the 2017-18 season. He's capably filled the second-line centre role on the team since his arrival in Ottawa (Getty Images).
Kyle Turris is convinced he's found his "perfect" hockey home.
With that thought in mind, it was an excited Turris who spoke with reporters earlier this afternoon about signing a five-year, $17.5-million extension with the Ottawa Senators. The new deal will keep the 23-year-old native of New Westminster, B.C., in the nation's capital through the 2017-18 season.
"I love it here in Ottawa," said Turris, who has one year left on the contract he signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, who dealt him to the Senators last Dec. 17 in exchange for blueliner David Rundblad and a draft pick. "I love being a part of the organization and the people in it and the hockey team we have here, and I'm looking forward to being here for the next six years and hopefully past that.
"I knew from the end of (last) year that this is the place I wanted to be and I wanted it to be for a long time. I love the city, I love everything about it, the fans ... but most importantly, the organization and everything about it."
The Senators initiated contract talks with Turris over the last three weeks, with the young centre leaving no doubt all the way through where he wanted to stay.
"Everything about it was perfect for me and I really wanted to be here," he said.
The length of the deal is also a clear indication that the Senators consider Turris to be a major part of their future. In 49 games after his arrival from Phoenix, he produced 12 goals and 29 points in establishing himself as the team's second-line centre. In the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Turris notched the overtime-winning goal in Game 4 against the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Place.
"(Turris) is a young player that we really thought showed great progess as the year went on last year," said Senators general manager Bryan Murray. "We see him as a solid, potentially better than second-line player going forward. We felt this was an opportunity for Kyle, as well as ourselves, to commit to a relationship that allows us to sign one of our core players for a period of time.
"I think he's a creative type of player. He's very competitive ... He gave us a (second-line) centre ice player who was a real complement to Jason Spezza in our No. 1 spot. We like what he delivered. He gave us a chance pretty much every night to have a real creative second line."
Murray also liked the way Turris stepped up in the series against the Rangers.
"At playoff time, you find out a great deal about your players and Kyle is one of those guys that showed up, both from a physical and talent point of view," said Murray. "I thought his overall game really grew as the series went on."
"I love it here in Ottawa. I love being a part of the organization and the people in it and the hockey team we have here, and I'm looking forward to being here for the next six years and hopefully past that ... I knew from the end of (last) year that this is the place I wanted to be and I wanted it to be for a long time. I love the city, I love everything about it, the fans ... but most importantly, the organization and everything about it." - Kyle Turris
From his first game in a Senators jersey, Turris was given a prominent role in the team's lineup by head coach Paul MacLean. He says now that the confidence MacLean and his teammates showed in him did wonders for a player who never truly found the right fit in Phoenix.
"It was definitely a confidence booster to be able to not just be put in that role and have that opportunity — which I'm very thankful for to start with — but for them to stick with me," he said. "To be able to play that role for the whole season after I got here ... it's amazing what it does for your confidence and for your self-esteem.
"Ultimately, it makes you a better hockey player, knowing that people have confidence in you and they're allowing you to play the way you can play because they believe in you. I can't thank coach MacLean enough and the guys on the team enough for giving me that opportunity."
Turris also quickly fell in love with Ottawa itself, and he said it was also a significant factor in his decision to commit to the Senators for the long term.
"My fiancee (Julie) and I love it here," said Turris. "We love the (Byward) Market downtown and the Parliament buildings and out here in Kanata, how it's a bit quieter. We live right close to the rink. The people in the city are great and the fans are amazing ... it's where I wanted to be."
The signing of Turris and the seven-year contract inked back in June by Norris Trophy winning blueliner Erik Karlsson — who's only 22 years old — are the types of moves that Murray believes are vital in building a team that's competitive for the long haul.
"We see a great opportunity for growth," Murray said of Turris, who spent much of the summer in Ottawa working on building his strength level. "He's a guy who should be very important and one of our core players going forward. This is one of the things this organization will now try to do, and that is draft or trade for young players, develop them as best we can and secure them for the longer term. This is how you build a contending hockey team.
"We look at a young guy like Kyle as someone who has a lot of growth (left) in him and our projection is we'll like him a lot and he'll be a productive player going forward."