Over the past few days, it seemed like a trade for all-world defenseman Erik Karlsson was imminent. Originally, the Dallas Stars were confirmed to be the leader in the race and deep in talks with the Ottawa Senators on a deal for Karlsson. Not long after, it was the Tampa Bay Lightning who had reportedly pulled ahead and had a deal in place with Ottawa that simply required a third team to take on salary. Some even stated that a deal was done pending a trade call, a rumor that obviously lacked reliability. Karlsson remains a Senator and it now seems like a trade is not coming as quickly as expected.
The Athletic’s Joe Smith, who has had his finger on the pulse of the Lightning’s trade talks, is no longer optimistic about a deal getting done. Smith writes that a deal for Karlsson should not be expected any time soon and that nothing is “imminent or close”. Smith admits that a trade could still work out between Ottawa and Tampa, but it’s no longer the foregone conclusion that some had perceived. Meanwhile the Stars are rumored to have fallen out of favor when they refused to include star blue line prospect Miro Heiskanen in a deal for Karlsson. Sportsnet’s John Shannon believes that the Stars still have a chance to land Karlsson, but it seems that Dallas’ chances depend on whether or not they can be flexible with their offer.
The Senators now have a feel for the market and should be able to work out a fair value for Karlsson soon. However, what isn’t so easy is accommodating their insistence on also sending away Bobby Ryan and his $7.25MM cap hit over four years remaining on his contract. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports today that this is the exact reason that finding a trade partner and working out the details of a deal could prove difficult. A three-team deal, like the one contemplated by Ottawa and Tampa Bay, is the most likely outcome for a Karlsson trade, but such deals don’t develop overnight. A trade could still be a ways away – The Athletic’s Chris Stevenson says that the Lightning, Stars, and Vegas Golden Knights all remain in the running – but Stevenson also says that nothing is close as the Senators have “retrenched” and the suitors are playing hardball. It seems that whichever team is able to up the ante on their offer and also be creative in managing several major contracts will be the team to land Karlsson and change the face of their franchise.