Yesterday, several reports surfaced that Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson did not want to sign an extension in a Canadian city and preferred to have his next deal take him to the United States. Today, the superstar defenseman wanted to clear the air and reached out to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman to refute the report. Karlsson told Friedman that the report saying he is “unwilling to sign long-term with a Canadian team” is false, but wouldn’t go any further. Karlsson has been extremely quiet on the whole situation this summer, waiting until training camp to address the media.
Teams looking to acquire Karlsson from the Senators this offseason are likely asking about a extension, given that the 28-year old is heading into the final season of his current contract and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in July of 2019. If Karlsson was truly against signing anywhere in Canada it would limit Senators GM Pierre Dorion’s options, though there’s no guarantee at this point that the defenseman is willing to sign anywhere. With Drew Doughty, Ryan Ellis, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ryan McDonagh all off the market after signing extensions this summer, Karlsson could find himself as the lone big ticket defensemen available in free agency.
That idea of picking your destination must be tempting, especially when you then know your new team isn’t wasting a pile of future assets to acquire you. Signing in free agency leaves the roster of a new team relatively in tact, something that no one would be able to say after trading for Karlsson. The Senators are surely looking for an enormous package in return for the face of their franchise, including roster pieces and prospects. An agreement like that is obviously affected by whether or not Karlsson is willing to sign long-term, or if Bobby Ryan is indeed strapped to him as a salary dump for the Senators.
For all the speculation that has surrounded Karlsson the last few months, the Senators captain has never said an ill word about the city of Ottawa. He and his wife live in the city and have strong ties to the community, and will likely continue to do so regardless of where he plays in 2018-19. While it doesn’t seem like a long-term extension is coming with the Senators after negotiations halted earlier this offseason, Karlsson has made it clear that he is not staunchly against playing in Canada.
The Vancouver Canucks were the Canadian team most recently linked to the Karlsson trade talks, though almost immediately came out to say they were not actively involved. Other teams that could certainly use the right-handed offensive defenseman include the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, though it’s not clear if any have even approached the Senators about a potential trade. Karlsson does also hold a 10-team no-trade list, meaning he has at least some control over who the Senators talk to.