Addressing reporters for the first time since general manager Pierre Dorion’s comments on the captain’s future, Karlsson insisted nothing has changed regarding his status with the club.
Dorion said Thursday that his priority is to work towards re-signing his best player once extension talks can be formally begin on July 1, but that Wayne Gretzky was once traded so anything is possible.
Karlsson said he didn’t understand why the Gretzky parallel was drawn and is surprised by the trade speculation.
“When the time comes to make a decision, I will make one, but as of right now, it’s not one,” said Karlsson, following the Senators’ 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I have a year and a half left [on my contract]. I want to do everything I can to be a better player and be a better leader.”
Teammate Bobby Ryan says he’s noticed no difference in Karlsson since his potential departure became a persistent topic of speculation.
“He’s handled it well as far as I’m concerned,” said Ryan, drawing a line between the outside noise and the “good” morale in the dressing room.
“That’s just you guys. You must like to have a couple double espressos and get the hot stove goin’. I don’t know what time you guys go to bed. It’s gotta be late, because I wake up the next morning and hear something like, ‘I don’t even think that’s close to true. I talked to that guy yesterday.’”
Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, has said publicly that he wants market value for his services when he becomes a free agent in 2019.
He has submitted a 10-team no-trade list to Dorion as per his modified no-trade clause.
With the Senators tumbling farther out of the playoff race and trade deadline decisions looming, Dorion held a meeting with the players Friday.
“We’re at the bottom of the league and not doing a good job here, and my contract is about to be up here and discussions are going to be made,” Karlsson said.
“It’s not something I can control, and I’m going to do the job that I feel like I have done as long as I’ve been here to be successful and whatever happens, it’s not going to be my decision.”
Karlsson, 27, has struggled by his standards this season, scoring 31 points and registering a minus-21 plus/minus through 39 games since undergoing major ankle surgery.
He played through illness Saturday, scored a goal, and reiterated his dedication to the organization that drafted him.
“I’m an Ottawa Senator. I’ve been here for nine years,” Karlsson said. “I’ve given everything I possibly have into this organization and this team and I’m going to keep doing that.”