In many cases, a player headed to unrestricted free agency coming off a career-best season would be cause for concern for an NHL front office.

However, the Ottawa Senators appear to be taking a patient approach when it comes to negotiating with Zack Smith after his 25-goal campaign. There haven’t been any meaningful contract talks in several weeks and there does not appear to be anything on the horizon either.

“I think that’s how you could describe it as right now – as preliminary,” Smith told TSN.ca on Friday.

The two sides had surface negotiations during the summer, but the Senators front office told Smith’s agent Allain Roy that they had more pressing matters to deal with at the time.

“We had preliminary talks with the agent when the summer started. After July 1st I told him, ‘Give us time to get Hoffman done’ and then we did talk afterwards,” general manager Pierre Dorion told TSN 1200 this week.