The National Hockey League Entry draft is always entertaining; seeing young prospects realize their life-long dream of playing professional hockey tugs at your heart strings, sure, but we all know why we look at the annual events. You sit on your couch, eagerly waiting for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to say:
"We have a trade to announce."
In the past three years, several players, including Brayden Schenn, Derek Stepan, Lars Eller, Ryan O’Reilly, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, have been traded at the draft, and The Hockey News' Matt Larkin believes a few more names will be added to the list after this year's draft, on June 22 in Dallas.
While Larkin put together a list of five likely candidates to be moved at the draft, his first pick is the one gathering the most attention. You will think we are back, just a few days before the trade deadline, since the story remains almost the same. Ottawa Senators captain and star defenseman is reportedly the most likely to change address on June 22.
Here is how Larkin explains it:
"Karlsson is the obvious top trade candidate for multiple reasons. First off, he’s the most coveted commodity on the market by a mile, meaning he’ll attract many suitors, potentially creating a bidding war and upping the chances Senators GM Pierre Dorion gets an offer he likes. Karlsson almost got moved to Vegas at the 2018 deadline, but the terms weren’t quite right, and Golden Knights GM George McPhee pivoted to a last-minute Tomas Tatar trade.
Now the Senators have more time to hammer out a trade – they can start talking to teams any time now if they haven’t already – and they’ll have a broader range of options considering any team, not just a go-for-broke contender, could use Karlsson. That said, it’s still more likely a powerhouse team gets him since he has just one year left on his contract. A deal with an handshake agreement that Karlsson signs an extension July 1 would make him far easier to move – and would guarantee Ottawa a much better return. Either way, Karlsson will command a gargantuan bounty of picks, prospects and NHL roster players.
He’s not an absolute shoo-in to move, as there’s no such thing, but given Ottawa’s bleak ownership outlook and Karlsson’s reportedly frayed relationship with the franchise, it might be best for all parties to turn the page."
Karlsson is, of course, not the only player on the trading block ahead of the draft; Larkin also listed Buffalo Sabres' Ryan O'Reilly, Washington Capitals backup goalie Philipp Grubauer, Arizona Coyotes young forward Max Domi and the entire Carolina Hurricanes roster as potential trade candidates.
However, all eyes are expected to be back on Karlsson, who had one of the most awful years in Ottawa this past season. The Senators struggled mightily on the ice, and the poor star blue liner had to deal with the death on his unborn son Axel amongst the persistent trade chatter.
Let's see if Karlsson chooses to start a new chapter elsewhere, and if he chooses to start it in Dallas during the NHL draft...