Cornwall Ontario – I love Erik Karlsson. He’s been a strong leader for the Ottawa Sens who helped lead them right up to the gate of a Stanley Cup championship last season before undergoing major ankle surgery.
Karlsson is always a Norris trophy threat and All World player. He’s taken critics to heart and developed a stronger defensive game as well, which some have pointed to adding wear and tear, and injury that will impact his future.
In the cap age any GM or team owner, except apparently Habs GM Marc Bergevin, has to focus on the numbers and returns. You can’t do David Clarkson type signings which tilt your cap on its end when the player craps out on you or is injured.
For all the criticism Sens owner Eugene Melnyk takes, and he takes a lot, the reality is that the Senators have never really been a huge draw or money maker. The silly place they built their rink being the chief reason. While a new downtown rink still isn’t a reality there are rumblings that the team will be sold and possible moved which would be tragic for Sens fans.
Melnyk is a business person. Business people know you have to buy low and sell high to accumulate wealth and assets and Hockey is a business even if some fans don’t get it.
The reason to lock a player into a long term high dollar contract has to make sense. Most get them early in their careers. Toews and Kane, Getzlaf and Perry, Crosby and Malkin, McDavid and Draisaitl, and Scheifele and Ehlers now in Winnipeg, Gaudreau and Monahan in Calgary. It’s normally the right play in that ownership gets star stability and most times save a few dollars.
Look at the insane contract the Leafs gave out to Patrick Marleau. If you have a good cap situation you can overpay to fill a needed short term slot, but you need that base or core or you end up like Detroit, a hot mess with untradeable contracts and years of mediocrity as you try to retool. Chicago has been crippled by cap issues. I wouldn’t want to call anyone a fat fibber, but honestly they really need Hossa this season.
The Habs have destroyed their cap situation by trading for Weber and then the utterly fiscally insane and emotionally retarded Carey Price contract.
For whatever reason the Sens decided to not go long on Kyle Turris. While he signed for a reasonable six years at $6M per with Nashville the question was if he’d have signed for the same in Ottawa where our tax situation is less friendly, or if he even really wanted to stay? He’s already slagged Melnyk in media reports since the trade.
Joe Sakic had to face the same question with Matt Duchene and clearly didn’t want to pony up the Benjamins. He was lucky as he got far more for Duchene who’s been a dud for Ottawa so far. In fact that’s where the Sens season falls apart. They were doing fine until the Duchene trade and emptied a lot of their future to acquire a centre with just one more year of term. He may soon find himself traded too.
Which has led the media and fan speculation about Erik. He has one year left after this season, but the question for any owner or GM is to go all in or not. The reality is that Karlsson’s value is greatest in Ottawa. Not only from a hockey standpoint, but from a fan one. But with his age and ankle situation would you pay top dollar on a eight year contract? I wouldn’t. Most GM’s who understand the cap wouldn’t either unless they were desperate.
The clear play would be for Karlsson to give a hometown discount for that long term deal, but from interviews he burned that bridge. He’s a champion. The years of frustration in Ottawa and the loss of Turris must be playing on him especially after the sacrifices he’s made for the team.
But his value to the team as a trade chip this season is far greater. He’s a playoff run and next season acquisition that can really mean a Stanley Cup in the right situation. Of all the playoff and some bubble teams with the exception of Nashville, he’d be a no brainer rocket boost to their Stanley Cup hopes.
The Sens are missing their 1st and 2nd round draft picks in a draft that’s expected to be a good one. They have some good young future talent, but they have a few cap issues to resolve. They also will have to decide if Duchene and Brassard are in their futures or if both can be traded? Bobby Ryan is near untradeable. Dion Phaneuf could be traded too as the Sens really have to rebuild their D corps.
This season turned into a hot mess for reasons that clearly were not based on talent as much internal grief. The good news for Sens fans is that it’s still a very talented team with a lot of upside. Karlsson should bring in a boatload to help recalibrate.
Melnyk rewarded the team by having 3rd highest cap of any Canadian team. He didn’t gobble that playoff cash from last season, but let it ride this year. For a fiscally challenged team working with a value budget, cap management is critical.
It’s not too late. If Karlsson really wants to stay a Sen making it clear to ownership that he’ll give a hometown discount would probably ensure a contract. If he wants full market value he’ll be traded after the holidays most likely.
What do you think Sens Nation? You can post your comments below.