Erik Karlsson’s recent comments combined with the Ottawa Senators’ ongoing struggles has created a rumor firestorm that isn’t likely to die down any time soon. The Senators are 1-8-1 in their last ten games and are sinking further and further out of playoff contention this season. Owner Eugene Melnyk is unsurprisingly sensitive right now and Karlsson stating that he would not take a discount to re-sign in Ottawa when his contract expires after next season has rubbed Melnyk the wrong way, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos.
That does not mean that Karlsson is being traded right away or even that the Senators plan to trade him at all. However, steps are being taken to allow a potential Karlsson trade to happen. Sportsnet reports that the Senators have asked all of their players with modified no-trade clauses – Karlsson, Bobby Ryan, Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard, Zack Smith, Alexandre Burrows, Nate Thompson, Clarke MacArthur, Dion Phaneuf, and Johnny Oduya – to submit their lists of team they would or would not be traded to, per the terms of each individual clause. For Karlsson, he has a a ten-team no-trade list that will now be on record for the Senators and GM Pierre Dorion, should they choose to make a move.
In the opinion of Kypreos, a move should be made and it should be made soon. Karlsson’s market value, the team’s poor performance, and the Senator’s relatively low revenue and unwillingness to spend to the salary cap ceiling all make a Karlsson extension extremely unlikely. Rather than wait until next season for Karlsson to become just a rental player, Kypreos believes that a trade should be made by this summer and the earlier the better. It is hard to imagine Ottawa getting a fair return for arguably the best defenseman in the NHL, but they will surely get a better deal trading Karlsson this season instead of next.
Yet, the public relations train for the Senators will keep rolling. No one will make it known that Karlsson is trade bait until an actual deal is finalized. The team has enough issues that they don’t need their best player disgruntled and the locker room in disarray. Karlsson being traded is a real possibility, but you won’t hear it from Melnyk or anyone else in Ottawa any time soon.