Much has been made recently about the futures of five All-Star defenseman who are slated for free agency in 2019. Drew Doughty is working toward an extension with the Los Angeles Kings. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is sitting on an offer from the Arizona Coyotes. The Nashville Predators have made re-signing Ryan Ellis their priority this off-season. Ryan McDonagh was unable to bring home a Stanley Cup for the favorite Tampa Bay Lightning after a deadline blockbuster. And all of this has somehow overshadowed the potential availability of the Ottawa Senators’ Erik Karlsson.
All five of these superstar defenders could sign extensions on July 1st. Of course, they could all be dealt away even sooner. Doughty seems closest on a deal, but has strict salary demands that could end up souring one side or the other. Ekman-Larsson has always seemed loyal to the Coyotes, but is understandably concerned about the future of the team given their struggles throughout his career. Ellis too has been a loyal soldier for the Predators and an extremely underpaid one at that. He could make far more and play a far greater role elsewhere. McDonagh was acquired for the Bolts to make a title run this year and next, but beyond that point the team may not be able to afford him. Finally, Karlsson is the ultimate prize. He has expressed a desire to get fair market value on his next deal and polarizing Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk seems unlikely to match.
So, as the off-season gets underway and these five know that their futures will be determined in the next twelve months, the question is how many re-sign and how many move on, either via trade or free agency? Which of these stars will don the same jersey in 2019-20 as they did in 2017-18?