We can understand that Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson is looking for a new start after one of the toughest year anyone - not just a hockey player - can go through in their lives. The poor defenseman and his wife Melinda lost their first child back in April, as their son Axel was a stillborn. The Senators did not clinch a playoff spot after last spring's fairytale story and there was also the controversial report of abusive behavior and harassment that occurred over the better part of a year, harassment at the hands of a woman identified as Monika Caryk, former teammate Mike Hoffman’s fiancée.
At the beginning of the month, there was confusion of a failed trade attempt between the Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning that went viral on social media as the deal was never made official. While the Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars have all spoken to the Senators about acquiring Karlsson, the star defenseman remains in Ottawa for now.
When Senators general manager Pierre Dorion pitched him a new contract, there was belief, seeing that Hoffman had been traded that Karlsson would accept a contract extension presented to him by Ottawa. The club's contract-extension pitch to the superstar defenseman was closer to $11 million than $10 million per season, which appeared to be a great pitch.
However, it has been revealed they made a huge mistake.
The Senators apparently didn’t include much bonus money in their offer to Karlsson. A source with knowledge of the offer told The Athletic’s Chris Stevenson that the deal came up short in the area of signing bonuses, which then pushed Karlsson to reject it and the Sens to give teams permission to negotiate with the superstar blue liner shortly thereafter.
The lack of sizable signing bonuses would run in stark contrast to the deal forward John Tavares signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Karlsson might have been looking for the same treatment. Many NHL stars are looking to sign a bonus-heavy deal in anticipation of a potential work stoppage in 2019.
Since, rival teams have gone out of their way to make great offers to land Karlsson. The Lightning is still trying to bring Karlsson to Florida, however, it seems like a major cap space issue is putting the breaks on the move. Tampa Bay needs to convince a rival team to help them out, and while at first the Rangers were believed to be involved in a three-way trade, seeing that the Lightning have only $3.4 million in projected cap space, per Cap Friendly.
Dorion should have been aware that a signing bonus would make the difference and include it in his negotiations. Instead, the Senators might have just made the biggest mistake of their lives.