Erik Karlsson’s contract doesn’t expire until the end of the 2018-19 season and he isn’t even eligible to sign an extension yet, but when you’re the best defenseman in the NHL, everyone is focused on your future and (potential) availability. So, it’s no surprise that a question of his future was posed at practice Thursday. However, the surprise, at least for many Senators fans, was his answer, as retold by the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren:
“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… That’s the business part of it. That’s the way every player has been treated ever since this league has started, and I think the players have been a little bit on the other side of things when it comes to negotiations. I think it’s time to realize that when we go to the table, it’s business on both parts, not just (owners)… “I like it here, I’m comfortable here, I’ve been here my whole career… but at the end of the day, when it comes down to it, if it’s not the right fit and it’s not going to work out business-wise, then you’re going to have to look elsewhere because that’s what (owners) are going to do, as well.”
Karlsson isn’t incorrect – it is far more frequent in all pro sports to see a star athlete take a hometown discount to stay with a team than it is for a team executive to offer a premium contract to retain such an athlete. Karlsson clearly recognizes that he is one of the best in the game and is deserving of perhaps a record-setting contract, one that should at least erase P.K. Subban’s $9MM mark as the highest AAV ever handed to a defenseman. A Norris-caliber defenseman hitting the open market at the age of 28 is beyond rare and Karlsson is ready to cash in. However, the big question – and one that could plague the team for the next year plus – is whether the Ottawa Senators will be the club that ponies up for Karlsson’s massive promotion.