At one point this summer the biggest story on almost a daily basis was the future of Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson, but since trade talks seemed to have broken down there have been almost no reports to update his status. Brent Wallace of TSN says it has been “eerily quiet” in Ottawa regarding Karlsson, and doesn’t believe that will change until he addresses the media at the start of training camp. Karlsson is still under contract with the Senators, but after the team reportedly offered a long-term extension in early July there has been very little talk about any potential negotiations between the two sides.
We’ve seen a situation extremely similar to this play out recently, ultimately ending in the Senators themselves acquiring Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche just a few weeks into the 2017-18 season. Duchene basically avoided speaking to the media entirely during training camp, not willing to feed into the speculation around whether he was unhappy in Colorado and had requested a trade. A similar thing might be happening with Karlsson, who has given no indication that he would hold out from camp to demand a trade, or in fact has even asked for a trade at all. The Senators obviously will have to continue contemplating that option if the two sides aren’t progressing in extension negotiations, given their expected struggles this season and Karlsson’s immense value as a trade asset.
Senators training camp opens in just under a month’s time, at which point we should start to get at least some answers from the team on whether Karlsson is expected to start the year on the roster. While the hockey world has seemingly taken a bit of a vacation in early August, things will begin heating up quickly as the calendar turns and the start of the season creeps closer. Not only will teams be able to evaluate their roster by seeing them first hand on the ice, but injuries to key players could always create a potential trade candidate where one didn’t appear before.
Karlsson remains the biggest fish on the trade market, and actually saw another one of his free agent contemporaries scratch their name off the UFA list for next summer. When Ryan Ellis inked his eight-year, $50MM contract extension today it marked the fourth big-name defenseman scheduled for 2019 free agency to sign a long-term contract. Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ryan McDonagh have already been locked in, meaning Karlsson could find himself as the unchallenged king of the unrestricted free agent market—at least among defensemen— on July 1st.