Making sense of Doughty and Karlsson’s contract comments

The Hockey Night in Canada panel discuss comments made by Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson about their contracts and if the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers are open for trades.

Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson share a lot in common, from their draft year to their status as perennial Norris Trophy contenders, so it’s no surprise they’d be looking to land similar paycheques on the open market.

Doughty made it clear that he’ll be consulting Karlsson when the time comes for him to negotiate a new deal when he spoke with The Athletic‘s Craig Custance earlier this week.

“I know I’m going to talk to Karlsson back and forth, kind of see what money he’s looking for,” Doughty said. “I’ll kind of look at what money I’m looking for. I don’t know if he’s going to re-sign with Ottawa. I don’t know if I’ll re-sign with L.A. You just never know what’s going to happen.”

Both Doughty and Karlsson are scheduled to be free agents following the 2018-19 season, and will therefore be eligible to sign extensions as early as July 1, 2018.

According to Sporsnet’s Nick Kypreos, the Los Angeles Kings plan on making their star blue liner a priority.

“Kings management had no issues whatsoever when it comes to his comments,” Kypreos said during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “Their priority is to make him an offer as early as July 1. The last thing that they want is another distraction, much like we see with the Islanders and (John) Tavares. That’s the one thing that they want to avoid.”

Of course, it’ll cost them. Doughty’s current contract, an eight-year, $56-million deal he signed back in 2011, counts for $7 million against the cap. Kypreos said he’s aiming for something even bigger than the $80-million deal Kings captain Anze Kopitar inked in 2016, which could pose some big budget questions for Kings in the near future.

“They understand that he will put himself in a position to be higher than the highest paid player in L.A., which is Kopitar at $10 million,” Kypreos said. “But for them to remain competitive in years to come, I don’t think that they’re willing to give him, basically, a top-leveled kind of contract. I do believe that it will be slightly higher, but not to the point where he prices himself out completely out of a competitive team for years to come.”

Hockey players are notorious for side-stepping questions about money, so Doughty’s honesty made several headlines—and prompted several questions for Karlsson, too.

As for the Ottawa Senators captain, he was clear about his intentions:

“When I go to market, I’m going to get what I’m worth, and it’s going to be no less, no matter where I’m going,” Karlsson told the Ottawa Sun on Thursday.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston broke down what Karlsson’s comments could mean for the Senators:

“The timing in Ottawa was a little bit less than ideal,” Johnston said Saturday. “They’d lost seven straight games when this came up, obviously they had no control over it when Drew Doughty made his comments and naturally reporters were going to go to Erik Karlsson and get his feelings on the matter. He’s made his point here, I don’t expect the Senators will do the same.”

Karlsson signed a seven-year, $45.5-million deal in 2012 with an affordable $6.5-million cap hit for a Senators team that has seen its share of star players leave town due to budgetary reasons.

“Awkward timing for them as well, because they can’t do anything until July 1. They don’t want to stoke the fires here, and a lot of people have pointed out that Doughty and Karlsson both share an agency, Newport Sports,” explained Johnston. “There’s also another dynamic here: the Ottawa Senators have to deal with Newport on Mark Stone this coming summer, so there’s a few things boiling beneath the surface. Ottawa wants to keep it quiet in hopes this blows over.”

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