Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has shared important information on what is expected to take place this summer with his hockey club. The Sens GM has told season-ticket holders on a conference call Friday that the team plans to offer captain Erik Karlsson a contract extension on July 1.
Karlsson is slated to enter the final season on a seven-year, $45.5 million contract he signed ahead of the 2012-13 season and is eligible to begin negotiating an extension with the team on the start of free-agent market on July 1.
The 27-year-old defenseman ranks second in scoring on the Senators this season with eight goals and 56 points in 66 games. He led the team in scoring each of the past four seasons, and managed to keep up the good work despite a tumultuous season.
It started all wrong when Karlsson missed time at the beginning of the year after ankle surgery. He was then the main topic of discussion amongst trade chatter leading up to the deadline, with winger Bobby Ryan saying afterwards that he and Karlsson thought they had been traded at one point. Karlsson and Ryan might still be with the Ottawa Senators, but the latter 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.”
Karlsson is currently away from the team mourning the loss of his son. The tragic news was revealed on Tuesday when the team made it public that Axel was stillborn. The couple announced they were expecting in November 2017. Karlsson had previously said the baby was due in mid-April, around the start of the NHL playoffs.
As one of the league's best defender, Karlsson is expected to command a record payday for a blue liner. Nashville Predators defenceman P.K. Subban currently owns the highest cap hit of any defenseman at $9 million, but both Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty he and Karlsson have been honest about looking to land more.
In the same conference call, Dorion also said the team would also be trying to work with forward Matt Duchene on an extension this summer. It should please Sens fans to hear so as Duchene was acquired in November as part of a three-way trade in which the Senators gave up draft picks in the each of the first two rounds of June's draft and centre Kyle Turris.
Dorion also stated that Guy Boucher's future will be evaluated at the end of the year and that the team could add some staff to their scouting group.