It sure looks like the season is over for Ottawa Senators Erik Karlsson, who has not accompanied the team on its last three-game road trip to stay home with his wife Melinda, as the couple is grieving the loss of their unborn son Axel. And though the star defenseman faces hard time, many hockey fans remember the hockey facts: Karlsson has one year left on his contract, and the window to discuss an extension opens July 1.
However, to make matters even more interesting is that following Monday’s 6-5 loss against the Winnipeg Jets at Canadian Tire Centre, Karlsson grabbed the puck at the end of the game, as a possible momento of his final game as a Senator... So, will the captain get traded and shipped out of Ottawa... After all, it almost happened at the trade deadline.
In the last hour of the deadline, it was reported that the Vegas Golden Knights almost made a huge splash as they went for the offensively-gifted defenseman. NHL insider Bob McKenzie had mentioned prior to the deadline that the Sens would try to rid themselves of Bobby Ryan's contract and it became a huge hurdle in negotiations. And GM Pierre Dorion specified that he didn't shop Karlsson, he simply listened. Ryan admitted both he and Karlsson believed they had been dealt to a Western Conference team the day before the Feb. 26 deadline.
“I heard on Sunday it was done and somebody backed out at the last second,” Ryan told the Ottawa Sun. “Karl and I were like, ‘pack it up.’ We thought we were gone. That’s just the way it goes. Then you’re like, I’ve got to move again?
“I guess I’ll just wait and see how it goes in the summer. That’s all you can do.”
Fans are all waiting to see and though Vegas still seems the favourite to possibly land the star defender, it seems almost clear that another Western Conference team doesn't even want to make a call and see what it would take the add Karlsson to their roster. In an interview on Vancouver's Sportsnet 650, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman revealed some details about the Golden Knights' new strategy to acquire Karlsson and how the Chicago Blackhawks are not interested in taking part in the sweepstakes.
“At the deadline it was Vegas,” recalled Friedman as reported by Chris Nichols of FanRag Sports. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still in it. I think the Rangers, I would assume – depending on what the Rangers decide to do, do they look at this and say, ’This is a rebuild,’ or do they say, ‘We’re going to come back with some of these kids next year.’
“I think the other thing too is it’s hard to say in some ways because we’ll see what happens in the playoffs. That’s going to determine it too. I thought Chicago was going to be in it, but Stan Bowman said to me last week in an interview I did with him, ‘That’s probably not what we’re going to be doing. He’s probably too old for what we’re going to be looking for our first-round draft pick’ kind of thing.
“But I do think Vegas could still be there. I think the Rangers could potentially be there."
So Chicago, better get used to it now. Don't count on Bowman making a desperate move for Karlsson. Hawks president John McDonough confirmed today that both his GM and his head coach Joel Quenneville would be back next season.
Although it won't be in Chicago, it seems, perhaps the best thing for Karlsson is a fresh start in a new city next season.