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Frank Seravalli

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

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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:

 

Top 25

 
Trend Player Pos Age Cap Hit GP G PTS Years Clause
  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  
Embedded Image 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
Embedded Image 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    
Embedded Image 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  
Embedded Image 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.