As the summer winds down, we are getting to the point in the offseason that NHL GMs begin to crank things up to finalize their rosters for the upcoming season. While most teams are just trying to tie up loose ends before training camp, there are a few that still have some heavy lifting to do.
The Ottawa Senators are at the top of that list.
With their three best players set to become unrestricted free agents next summer, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Senators traded away any of Erik Karlsson, Matt Duchene or Mark Stone before the start of the regular season. The most likely of which is the all star defenseman.
Thanks to some well publicized off-ice issues with teammate Mike Hoffman, many believe Karlsson has played his last game as a member of the Senators.
Even though Hoffman has been shipped out of town, it’s believed that the Karlsson family would still like a fresh start away from Ottawa. The fact that he has given no indication that he would like to re-sign before he becomes a free agent at the end of the season makes the decision to move the defender easier on the Sens.
After a trade seemed to be getting close around the draft, things have cooled off significantly - as is often the case with NHL activity in August - but now that GMs are back from vacation, it sounds like discussions might be picking back up.
There is a sense today that Erik Karlsson trade talks have picked up in the last few days. Most likely destinations appear to be Western Conference. There is also a belief VAN has stepped in to see if it is a match.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 22, 2018
It makes sense that the Senators would want to trade Erik Karlsson to the Western Conference. He is one of the top-5 defensemen in the league, so sending him to a team they aren’t competing with makes sense.
The San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks have been the teams most closely tied to Karlsson recently. But when you think about a return for Erik Karlsson, you know there’s one asset the Senators would love to get their hands on - their own 2019 first round draft pick.
We all know that the Avalanche own that pick thanks to Ottawa making the questionable decision of drafting Brady Tkachuk fourth overall this past June. The Sens chose to use the top-5 pick in hopes that they can have a better season this year and hand over lesser pick to the Avs next summer.
But if you’re trading away a superstar defenseman, what are the odds your team goes anywhere but down in the standings?
There is a very good chance the Senators are going to be at the bottom of the Eastern Conference next season, so they should be trying everything they can to re-acquire their 2019 draft pick from Colorado.
With Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko and Alex Turcotte at the top of the 2019 prospect class, the Avs would very much like to hold on to the pick. With that said, if the return involves one of the best defensemen of his generation, you have to consider it.
The question is; would Pierre Dorion dare engage Joe Sakic in negotiations after the embarrassment of the Matt Duchene trade?
Sakic fleeced the Senators last November. Matt Duchene is a very good player, but the trade was laughably one-sided. It’s going to go down as one of the worst deals in recent memory and that might make Dorion gun-shy. He can’t afford to lose another trade with the Avs.
As for Erik Karlsson, he is one of the truly elite players in the NHL. He instantly makes any team better. He’s smart, quick and has an outlet pass better than anyone in hockey. Karlsson would be the most talented defenseman the Avalanche have had in....ever?
KIDS: Check out this great play from Erik Karlsson. This is a PASS, not a dump in.— Topher Scott (@TopherScottNOW) March 14, 2018
If you don't have a play in the neutral zone, you want to put the puck in a spot where your teammate can get to it first or where it puts the D in a tough position to breakout. Awesome play!! pic.twitter.com/OeaIVgX87c
Maybe the trade doesn’t even have to include the draft pick. Maybe the Senators would consider a package centered around Cale Makar and COL’s 2019 first. If that’s the case you jump at it and laugh all the way to the playoffs.
The sticking point in all this is the contract.
If Karlsson isn’t willing to sign a longterm extension, it will be hard for any team to give up the kind of package Dorion will be looking for.
The Avalanche are a young, exciting team that has an incredibly bright future ahead of them. It’s not hard to believe that Karlsson would be open to re-signing in Colorado. The team has a ton of cap flexibility going forward. Even with the impending monster extension for Mikko Rantanen, they have more than enough room for a big money contract for Karlsson.
If Sakic can talk Karlsson into remaining in Denver longterm, there likely isn’t an asset outside of MacKinnon and Rantanen that the team wouldn’t consider moving. A package of Ottawa’s first and Makar would be tough to swallow, but absolutely worth a player of Karlsson’s caliber.
Whatever the asking price, the Avalanche should at the very least be engaged in the trade talks for Karlsson.
What do you think? Would getting aggressive and trading for Karlsson be something you’d like to see?