It appears the bidding has begun for Erik Karlsson‘s services.
Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said he’d put an offer on the table as soon as his captain was eligible for an extension on July 1, and he followed through on that. Twenty-four hours later, however, reports surfaced that the Senators had granted other teams permission to discuss the possibility of doing the same.
In other words: Trade talks are about to heat up. Again.
“I think they are trying to make a deal,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said during an appearance on The Program on Tuesday. “Look, this isn’t easy. The news is getting out that they made an offer to him, it was rejected. The news that teams are allowed to talk to him. I think Ottawa just wants this to end. I think they really want this to end and have this go away. It’s probably the best thing.”
As it stands, Karlsson has a no-move clause that allows him to submit a 10-team no-trade list. He’s also got leverage on his side when it comes to agreeing to sign long-term with the team he lands with. Not only does a team need to be willing to part with some good pieces, they also need to be able to afford to keep the star around while staying under the salary cap. Add in Ottawa’s attempts to toss in Bobby Ryan and his $7.25-million cap hit through 2021-22, and you’ve got a potentially small pool of contenders to choose from.
A few of Karlsson’s peers (and would-be fellow pending 2019 UFAs) have been locked into lucrative long-term deals with their respective clubs since the clock struck noon on July 1. Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson signed on for eight years at $8.25 million per to stay with the Coyotes, but it’s Drew Doughty’s eight-year, $88 million extension with the Kings that Karlsson is likely eying.
“I think Karlsson’s in the driver’s seat,” Friedman said. “He’s got a lot of say on where he can go and can’t go and if he’s going to extend or not going to extend. So I think he’s got a huge part of this. I think it’s very impactful in the conversation and I think Ottawa’s trying to get it done.”
So, where might the Swedish rearguard go?
“We’ve heard all the usual suspects … I do think Tampa’s very interested in getting a right-hand D,” Friedman explained. “We’ve heard Vegas, with Vegas maybe being willing to take Bobby Ryan. But you know, I’ve heard some other potential teams there. I think Dallas is very much in this. Marc Methot is there, it makes a lot of sense — he had a great partnership with Karlsson.
“I know it’s been reported, but I don’t think the Rangers are in it. They’re sticking to their plan,” Friedman continued. “But you know, somebody was telling me that they thought maybe Columbus was trying to get into this, too, which I thought was pretty interesting.”
Of course, this isn’t the first batch of trade rumours to involve Karlsson’s name — he came close to becoming a Golden Knight at the Trade Deadline, and we all saw how many conversations Dorion was having on the draft floor last month. With no deadline in sight for moving the Senators star, this process could go on awhile.
“I think Ottawa is really stuck in a bad, bad spot and I think the No. 1 reason that we haven’t had a trade so far is they’re just not getting what they’d like,” Friedman explained. “I think if you’re making a team take Ryan, that makes it even harder to get back what you like. And who knows? Maybe something will come up that really knocks their socks off, but the word I’ve gotten so far is that Ottawa doesn’t see a trade it likes and because the other teams know they they’re in a tough spot, they can really squeeze them.”