Erik Karlsson hadn’t spoken to Senators management ‘since November’

Watch as Erik Karlsson puts on his new San Jose Sharks jersey for the first time while being welcomed at a press conference.

The Erik Karlsson trade continues to reverberate around the hockey world, and after meeting the media in San Jose and skating with his new teammates for the first time, Karlsson spoke a little more about what went on between him and Senators management in the lead up to the deal.

In short: not much.

“I haven’t spoken to any of them really since November of last year when they asked for my no-trade list,” Karlsson told Postmedia News’ Michael Traikos Thursday. “That’s the way it is, I guess. That’s the only situation I know that’s been like this. It was what it was. I was there to play hockey and I did that to the best of my ability with what we had. That’s all that I worried about.”

After months of trade speculation, Karlsson was finally dealt to San Jose last week for a collection of depth NHLers, prospects and picks, including San Jose’s first-rounder in 2019 or 2020. It’s the first really big move in the direction of a rebuild Senators GM Pierre Dorion said he and owner Eugene Melnyk decided to go into back in February.

Karlsson’s free-agent price tag also likely played a big role in the Senators deciding to trade the two-time Norris Trophy winner. After Drew Doughty commented last year on wanting top dollar when he became a UFA, and that he would discuss his negotiation tactics with Karlsson, the Senators defenceman suggested he wouldn’t take less to stay in Ottawa.

On July 1 this past summer, Doughty re-upped with the Kings on an eight-year, $88 million contract and it’s reasonable to expect Karlsson could get more than Doughty’s $11 million AAV. Ottawa is already facing the prospect of having to re-sign pending big-ticket UFAs Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, and keeping all three would have been a near impossibility for the budget team.

Karlsson was the one they decided to trade, and likely drew the best return in assets. But the player says he never asked to leave.

Karlsson goes from a Senators team seemingly in one of the darker periods of their history, heading into a rebuild without their own first-round pick, to a San Jose franchise pushing all-in for that elusive Stanley Cup. The Sharks have been a great regular season powerhouse for the past decade and a half, and Karlsson noted a different sense and expectation around the team.

“The way that they think an organization like this should be run is extremely well planned out and prepared,” Karlsson said. “I think that the fact that they’ve been able to do so many extensions here in the past (with other acquired players) really speaks volumes about what a great place it is to live and to play for.”

That’s the next question here: Will Karlsson sign a long-term extension with the Sharks? If he wants to get full value and sign for eight years, he has to wait until after the 2019 trade deadline, per CBA rules. That seems to be the most likely scenario if he doesn’t want to wait it out until July 1 instead.

The Sharks aren’t showing their hand, but GM Doug Wilson didn’t seem all that fazed about losing his newest star come July 1.

“We’re very comfortable with the situation,” Wilson told Traikos. “He does fit for us now and for the future.”

In early training camp sightings, Karlsson has been skating alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic, a stay-at-home defensive specialist who is a regular for Team Canada at all the high-stakes international events. If Marc Methot complemented Karlsson so well in Ottawa, Vlasic makes for a dream pair. Splitting Brent Burns and Karlsson at even strength means San Jose can have one of them on the ice nearly all game long.

The Swede has also been seen with Burns and Joe Pavelski in 3-on-3 drills, too, and at the point on the power play. San Jose has all kinds of ways to potentially use their two Norris Trophy winners, not to mention the stacked set of weapons up front.

The Sharks with Karlsson are indeed Stanley Cup contenders in 2018-19, while the Senators need to fight tooth and nail to not end up giving Colorado the first-overall pick and a chance to draft Jack Hughes. That would make a situation that already looks so bad that much worse.

Karlsson will return to Ottawa with his new team on Dec. 1, offering a chance for fans to say goodbye to their long-time favourite.

“It’s obviously going to be a fun night coming back,” Karlsson told Traikos. “When I do come back, there’s going to be a lot of friends and family in the stands. Hopefully, everything goes as smooth as possible.”


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