Everyone in the National Hockey League kept their eyes peeled as the Ottawa Senators were possibly going to trade their captain, and star defenseman, Erik Karlsson on Monday. The Sens were indeed the team to watch yesterday as rumors of Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith, and, most of all, Karlsson were finally much ado about nothing.
NHL Insider Bob McKenzie reported the Vegas Golden Knights were among several suitors making a play for Karlsson, but that deal did not work out in the end. But the Knights were reportedly quite aggressive in trying to land the two-time Norris Trophy winner.
“Multiple teams phoned, but Erik’s a franchise player and we felt there was no franchise deal out there that could satisfy to make the best hockey deal,” said Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion during his post-deadline press conference on Monday.
And then Dorion placed his foot in his mouth, getting the calmer Ottawa Senators fans back in full anxiety mode.
“I think Erik wants to be a Senator for life . . . if he’s here on July 1, we will be making him a contract offer.”
It was finally time for Karlsson himself to break the silence on the trade chatter on Tuesday, following the team's practice. He even went on to admit that he never requested a trade from the team that picked him in the first round, 15th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He is glad the trade rumours are done for now and wants to focus on the future.
But for now, we are talking a short-term future. Karlsson revealed to the Ottawa Sun' Bruce Garrioch that he does not want to think about a contract extension at the moment, and prefers to pick negotiations up in the summer. He is however open to the idea of staying in Ottawa.
However, if there was interest at the deadline for Karlsson, there will be even more - if possible - at the draft in June. The bottom line remains that owner Eugene Melnyk seems to be working extremely hard to deal Karlsson elsewhere, including attempting to dump the $33 million remaining on Bobby Ryan’s contract as part of a potential Karlsson trade. With that in mind, it seems hard to imagine how Melnyk would consider offering Karlsson an eight-year extension in the $80 million – $100 million range - unless there is a dramatic change in Ottawa.
For now, when it comes to Karlsson, Dorion almost hinted that rival teams will need to up the ante, and present better, more serious offers in order to get Karlsson out of the nation's capital.
“I’m told about a lot of stuff that is pure, total nonsense,” he said. “It’s almost to the point of stupidity and I shouldn’t even comment on it.
“I hope they got the message. If we’re willing to trade a generational player that means we’re not very happy about a lot of their performances this year.”
For now, Dorion is also hoping that Karlsson's entourage will keep him in Ottawa.
“Let’s face it, Erik married a girl from Ottawa," he said. "His first child will be born in Ottawa. We want to make sure Erik can be here as long as we can.”
And let's face it, for now, that will have to be good enough for fans.