Senators sign Bobby Ryan to 7-year contract extension, select Erik Karlsson as captain

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OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators signed forward Bobby Ryan to a $50.75 million, seven-year extension on Thursday.

The Senators also selected star defenseman Erik Karlsson as the ninth captain in franchise history.

The signing of Ryan solidifies the Senators lineup as they have Karlsson, Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur signed to long-term deals.

The captain announcement came 15 years after Daniel Alfreddson started his long and successful run wearing the "C'' in Ottawa.

Karlsson takes over the leadership role from Jason Spezza, who was captain for just one year before being traded to the Dallas Stars this summer.

Ryan, who was acquired after Alfredsson chose to sign with Detroit as a free agent in the summer of 2013, has been a fan favorite from the start and says choosing to commit long-term was a "no brainer" for he and his fiancee.

"I love the city. I love the fans. Everybody has been so embracing and genuinely good-hearted hockey fans and I like being surrounded by that and on top of that I think the team is on the uptake obviously," he said.

"Say what you want on the outside of things, but I think a lot of people in the room are very, very happy with where we're at and where we're going to be over the course of my next seven years, but ultimately overall."

General manager Bryan Murray said it was always the organization's intent to sign Ryan to a long-term extension and was pleased to get it done sooner rather than later to avoid it becoming a distraction.

"We had been talking to Bobby for quite some time," Murray said. "He just wanted to take a little bit of time and make sure for him that he was comfortable where he fit here and obviously he is."

Only Phil Kessel has more goals than Ryan among American players since 2008-09. Kessel has 192 goals through 434 games, while Ryan has 165 goals in 425 games.

"We know he's a good player; we know he's an important player for us; we know goals are hard to come by in the NHL and if you don't have that kind of player in your lineup over the course of time it makes it difficult to win games," Murray said.

"I think Bobby's shown he can be the goal scorer in the moment of an important part of a game that can help us win."

Karlsson was the odds-on favorite to become the new captain.

At 24, Karlsson appears poised to embrace the new responsibility.

"It's an incredible opportunity," Karlsson said. "It's a task that's very rare and it's not something that you can prepare for really. It's a little bit surprising to me as well and it's a bit overwhelming, but I'm ready for what is to come.

"I'm really looking forward to what it has to bring and I'm excited about the team and about the upcoming season and even beyond that. I'm just very, very thrilled right now."

Chris Phillips and Chris Neil will remain alternate captains.

Karlsson was approached Wednesday about taking over the captaincy. He said he was honored to be asked and didn't hesitate to accept the offer.

The 2012 Norris trophy winner knows he will be under greater scrutiny, but says he was fortunate to have spent time playing under both Alfredsson, one of his best friends, and Spezza.

"I'll never be Alfie, I'll never be Spezz, I'll be myself and I'll lead probably in a different way than other players will and that's how it is for everyone," Karlsson said.

"No one can or should shape themselves exactly after someone else. We are who we are and I was fortunate to be around Alfie and learn from him and take the best things from him and also from Spezz and Philly (Phillips) and Neiler (Neil) as well. Just being around a lot of experienced, good guys it helps you shape yourself into who you want to be."

Karlsson shared the news with Alfredsson prior to the official announcement and said the former captain was pleased for him.

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