The Ottawa Valley is in an uproar after the San Jose Sharks cunningly flipped Mike Hoffman to the Senators’ Atlantic Division rival in Florida on Tuesday.
Right now, that’s just noise.
Senators’ general manager Pierre Dorion has bigger fish to fry than the Sharks. His phone is ringing off the hook on captain Erik Karlsson.
Dorion said he would table an eight-year contract extension offer to Karlsson on July 1, but Karlsson might not last in Ottawa that long.
There are many teams around the NHL who believe that Karlsson could soon follow Hoffman out the door, maybe even this week as the league descends on Dallas for the draft.
Karlsson has been locked in at No. 1 on TSN’s Trade Bait board since February. Already at the top of the list, there is no way for No. 1 to trend upward but the talk on Karlsson is expected to drastically heat up in the coming days.
The Karlsson Watch is on.
Karlsson, 28, holds the keys to how this all plays out – armed with both a 10-team no-trade list and the fact that he is entering the final year of his contract, the destination must be a long-term fit. It’s unlikely any team would shell out significant assets without at least getting the green light from Karlsson’s camp on a potential new contract.
The Vegas Golden Knights remain at the centre of the Karlsson Watch, the team that went down to the wire with the Senators on deadline day in February.
The Senators were reportedly deep into discussions with Vegas on Karlsson as late as 10 or 15 minutes before the 3 p.m. deadline.
The Golden Knights are a prime candidate because they have the pieces, picks and – if not most importantly – the cap space to pull a deal off.
A large part of the Karlsson package is believed to be the new team taking on Bobby Ryan and the $7.25 million cap hit that comes with him for each of the four seasons remaining on his deal. The Golden Knights have just $48.5 million committed to next season’s cap, which could rise to as much as $82 million.
That is enough room to swallow Ryan’s deal, sign Karlsson long-term and then continue to add to a Stanley Cup- finalist roster in free agency.
The asking price from Ottawa’s side was believed to include defenceman Shea Theodore, picks and prospects. Theodore, 22, stood out in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final against Washington but really struggled in the second half of the series.
Why didn’t a deal get done in February?
"Erik is a franchise player,” Dorion said on Feb. 26. “We felt that there was no franchise deal out there that could satisfy us to make the best hockey deal.”
The name rumoured to grind everything to a halt was prospect Cody Glass, the 19-year-old centre who had a 102-point season with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks after he became Vegas’ first-ever draft pick at No. 6 overall last June.
Are the Golden Knights now willing to part with Glass or another high-end prospect? Have the Senators softened their ask now that Karlsson has more leverage?
Get your popcorn ready. Other teams are expected to re-join the fun now.
If the two-time Norris Trophy-winning Karlsson is on the move he would represent the most impactful player traded in his prime since Jaromir Jagr back in 2001.
Here is the latest TSN Trade Bait board:
|1. Erik Karlsson, OTT||RD||28||$6.5M||71||9||62||1||M-NTC|
|2. Ryan O'Reilly, BUF||C||27||$7.5M||81||24||61||5|
|3. Jeff Skinner, CAR||LW||26||$5.73M||82||24||49||1||NMC|
|4. Philipp Grubauer, WSH||G||26||$1.5M||35||2.35||.923||RFA|
|5. Max Pacioretty, MTL||LW||29||$4.5M||64||17||37||1|
|6. Zack Smith, OTT||C||30||$3.25M||68||5||19||3||M-NTC|
|7. Canucks' No. 7 overall pick|
|8. Justin Faulk, CAR||RD||26||$4.83M||76||8||31||2|
|9. Noah Hanifin, CAR||LD||21||$925K||79||10||32||RFA|
|10. Phil Kessel, PIT||RW||30||$8M||82||34||92||4||M-NTC|
|11. Kevin Hayes, NYR||C||26||$2.6M||76||25||44||RFA|
|12. Milan Lucic, EDM||LW||29||$6M||82||10||34||5||NMC|
|13. Alex Petrovic, FLA||RD||26||$1.85M||67||2||13||RFA|
|14. Dougie Hamilton, CGY||RD||24||$5.75M||82||17||44|
|15. P.K. Subban, NSH||RD||29||$9M||82||16||59||4|
|16. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF||RD||23||$5.4M||73||6||41||4|
|17. Jacob Trouba, WPG||RD||24||$2.81M||55||3||24||RFA|
|18. Conor Sheary, PIT||LW||25||$3M||79||18||30||2|
|19. Ryan Spooner, NYR||LW||26||$2.83M||59||13||41||RFA|
|20. Bobby Ryan, OTT||RW||31||$7.25M||62||11||33||4||M-NTC|
|21. Andre Burakovsky, WSH||LW||23||$3M||56||12||25||1|
|22. Chris Tanev, VAN||RD||28||$4.5M||42||2||11||2||M-NTC|
|23. Alex Edler, VAN||LD||32||$5M||70||6||34||1||NTC|
|24. Sam Reinhart, BUF||RW||22||$894K||82||25||50||RFA|
|25. Corey Perry, ANA||RW||33||$8.63M||71||17||49||3||NMC|
OFF THE BOARD
Traded: 9. Mike Hoffman (to San Jose/Florida); 18. Max Domi (to Montreal); 19. Alex Galchenyuk (to Arizona).
Re-signed: 8. Oliver Ekman-Larsson.