Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Is Karlsson Available?

So the Hockey Night in Canada panel had a conversation about one Erik Karlsson that probably has 30 teams dreaming and one locked in total dread. As per Elliotte Friedman, there is a strong possibility that the Ottawa Senators have already requested the list of teams that Karlsson will not go to in a trade (as dictated in the terms of his NTC).

This eyebrow raising move comes after Erik Karlsson made it publically clear that he would not be willing to take a hometown discount to stay in Ottawa. Friedman passes along the sentiment expressed by his source that the Sens are not looking to trade Karlsson just because he said these things. However, you don’t ask for this list unless you’re willing to move the NHL’s most dynamic defender on some level.

Friedman, on the panel, made mention of the fact that the Senators have 10 players with No Trade Clauses and they are collecting the various lists just as they had done in the past when they were in this situation. The Senators are 29th in the NHL, on a shoestring budget, and are staring down the barrel of a new contract for Karlsson that should be in McDavid range.

While trading Karlsson is a losing scenario, the reality of Ottawa’s position financially might force the team’s hand. Kypreos in the same segment questioned whether Melnyk could afford to pay Karlsson and surround him with enough players to win (read: make the playoffs and earn that post-season revenue). Given that the Senators are poorly located (logistically) and couldn’t draw fans for even their playoff run, there might be more to that argument than we would like in a perfect world.

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Erik Karlsson is the crown jewel of mobile defenders for a lot of people in the NHL. He plays 25+ minutes a night despite undergoing major ankle surgery not long ago. He is fifth in points per game right now but has been either first or tied for first in P/GP by defenders in every year since 2013-2014. He’s also an incredible 8.05 CF% Relative to his team. As in, when he’s on the ice, the Sens get boosted so much it’s mindboggling. They are competing with him on and useless with him off.

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If Erik Karlsson is available, even if the price is high, you have to find out if you are on his no trade list or not. Edmonton has been on the no-trade list of probably every single NTC signed in the history of the NHL until Connor McDavid joined the franchise. It’s possible that the thought of playing for a legitimately wealthy owner, in a new centrally located arena, with the best player in the world might keep Edmonton off that list he apparently submitted to Sens management.

Can the Oilers afford Karlsson? He makes $6.5 million this season and next before becoming a UFA. He cannot sign an extension until the summer but when he does he will factor in close to $10 million dollars per season at least on the open market. He said he doesn’t want to take a pay cut and we believe him. He might be gunning for closer to $12 million a season. The Oilers already have McDavid at $12.5 starting next season plus Draisaitl at $8.5M. However, they also have Lucic and Russell combining for $10M a season. If you trust in Chiarelli’s ability to move some of the high priced players then there are possibilities to make it work.

Short term? It’s doable. Long term? Bodies need to move.

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What about the price? The sticker shock is going to scare some away but for others, the only player off the table is McDavid. I don’t think the Senators can win any trade involving Karlsson. It’s just a matter of how much they lose.

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The “easiest” thing to do for the Oilers would be to center a deal around Leon Draisaitl and his $8.5 million dollar per season contract. From a potential money in to money out that’s the best way for the team to remain mostly intact and add Karlsson. It’s also really hard to judge how much that makes sense for the Sens because the entire reason Karlsson might be on the move is because they cannot afford him.

If they can’t afford to pay Karlsson $10-$12 million, does Draisiatl at $8.5 make any sense? The Senators a budget team and have been for a long time.

I wonder if a deal for Erik Karlsson from the Oilers wouldn’t look more like Klefbom, Yamamoto, the Oilers’ first this season, and potentially a Jones or Bear thrown in as well. It’s a young D-man on a longterm contract at very reasonable money, a blue chipper, a potential lottery pick, and a 20-year-old prospect.

Something like that is a dear price to pay for the Oilers. Klefbom bouncing back to form while making just $4 million a season is a requirement for success. Yamamoto is obviously getting pencilled into their top six as early as next season. That pick could be worth a fortune at the draft, and Bear/Jones are their best AHL prospects right now.

If the Ottawa Senators end up trading Karsson, I wonder how many teams are capable of paying the price for him and being able to fit him under the cap. It’s not at all certain the Oilers are even capable of doing that, if they are even on the list of teams he would be willing to go to.

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We are working with a lot of unknowns here. The one unknown favouring the Sens is that I don’t know what my limit would be to get this guy save for one player on the club. Is Karlsson available? Only Dorion and Chiarelli know for sure.