Sens, Karlsson to negotiate contract next week

The Senators are ready to get down to business with standout defenceman Erik Karlsson, according to The Ottawa Sun.

Senators GM Bryan Murray, speaking in a wide-ranging interview, told the Sun he expects to hold formal talks with Karlsson’s agent Craig Oster and put an offer on the table next week.

Taking a break from scouting meetings that wrapped up Tuesday at Scotiabank Place, Murray confirmed there have been informal talks between the two sides. But now it’s time for discussions with Karlsson, who would become a restricted free agent July 1, to get serious.

"We had a meeting with our staff (Monday) and part of our discussion was how we approach (the talks)," said Murray. "We’ve had informal conversations, but that’s all. Now, we’ve got to get going on term and what we think is fair from our point. We’ll have to find out what they think and where we can go dollar-wise.

"We’ll get started within the next week, if not earlier. We’ll get an idea what their thoughts are. We’ll do the same and then get some work done here."

Many believe Karlsson’s camp will demand a similar deal to the eight-year, $56 million contract Drew Doughty signed with the Los Angeles Kings in September.

"We haven’t gone there (as far as money is concerned)," said Murray. "I have an idea, looking at comparables and somewhat comparables. He’s a difficult player that way.

"We have an idea what we think is the ballpark numbers, but we haven’t talked about it so we’re just shooting in the dark. We’ve had conversations with Newport Sports over the years and we’ll both approach it in a professional manner with an understanding that we both have a job to do. We’ll try to do it the best we can for our side."

The Senators will free up some money for Karlsson by letting blue-liner Filip Kuba test the UFA market. He made $3.7 million last season and Murray has no interest bringing him back at that price.

Murray said the Senators will likely deal for a veteran defenceman or sign one as a UFA to replace Kuba. The club is also counting on either Mark Borowiecki or Patrick Wiercioch battling for a spot.

Murray said he isn’t ready to announce whether forwards Jesse Winchester and Zenon Konopka and defenceman Matt Carkner will be back as UFAs. It’s certain not all will return.