Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has been the subject of many a trade rumor during the 2018 NHL offseason.
After the Senators failed to pull the trigger on a deal prior to the February 26 deadline for the 2017-18 regular season, Ottawa General Manager Pierre Dorion said his team was not interested in being on the losing side of a deal.
“We’re not going to hide the fact Erik Karlsson is a special player. He’s our franchise player … Multiple teams phoned about Erik. If a player of Erik Karlsson’s caliber was made available on the market, I’d be phoning every day,” Dorion told the media after the deadline. “Erik is a franchise player and we felt there was not a franchise deal out there.”
After the NHL playoffs ended, with free agency beginning July 1, Karlsson’s name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue once more.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Reports of a Deal With the Tampa Bay Lightning Proved to Be Inaccurate
On July 5, TSN’s Shawn Simpson tweeted that a trade involving Karlsson was finalized between the Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning. His story was called into question and Simpson defended his initial tweet, saying his intel “comes from a very reliable and informed source. If it doesn’t work out, I will own it.”
When the reported deal never came to fruition, his story was eventually debunked. To his credit, Simpson took full responsibility for his inaccurate report in a subsequent tweet.
“Regardless of how this plays out. What I was told and reported, has not happened. That’s 100% on me. I was told and said a deal was done, and only needed approval from the NHL. If that was the case, the deal would be done today. Sincere apologies to everyone,” he tweeted.
2. The Senators Offered Karlsson a Contract Extension & Have Allowed Him to Negotiate an Extension With Other Teams
The Senators front office put an offer on the table, as reported by the NHL, on the first day of free agency.
“We don’t really want to talk about roster players, contract negotiations, trades, all these things, but I think we owe it to our fans and we made a promise at the town hall that we would make a contract offer to Erik Karlsson and we’ve done so,” Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion said at the time.
Just days later, however, reports came out — first tweeted by the New York Post’s Larry Brooks — that the team had granted Karlsson permission to negotiate a potential contract extension with other teams, indicating negotiations to keep him in Ottawa were at an impasse.
“The tumultuous relationship between the Ottawa Senators and their star defenceman has taken yet another turn, according to reports coming out of New York, with the club once again seemingly inching closer to moving their two-time Norris Trophy winner. The Senators have given opposing clubs permission to speak with Erik Karlsson and his representatives about a potential contract extension,” Sportsnet reported.
3. Karlsson Is Due to Make $7.5 Million for the 2017-18 Season
As Heavy previously reported, Karlsson’s current contract pays him $7.5 million for the upcoming 2018-19 season. The Swedish-born defenseman, drafted 15th overall in 2008, is in the final year of a $45.5 million dollar, backloaded seven-year deal he signed in 2012, according to Spotrac.
Any team hoping to secure Karlsson’s services will have to negotiate a contract extension. Karlsson is a two-time Norris Trophy winner as the league’s best defenseman and hasn’t been shy about what he feels he’s worth.
“When I go to market, I’m going to get what I’m worth, and it’s going to be no less, no matter where I’m going,” Karlsson told the Ottawa Sun last November. “That’s the business part of it. That’s the way every player has been treated ever since this league has started, and I think the players have been a little bit on the other side of things when it comes to negotiations. I think it’s time to realize that when we go to the table, it’s business on both parts, not just (owners),” he added.
4. Issues Between Karlsson’s Wife & Former Teammate Mike Hoffman’s Fiancee Arose Earlier This Year
Earlier this year, Erik Karlsson and his wife, Melinda, were expecting their firstborn. In late March, it was announced their unborn son, Axel, died in utero.
“At this extremely difficult time it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel but we know one day we’ll get there. We would like to thank everyone for the love and support we have received and also for respecting our privacy and the process we need to go through now. We feel very lucky to be Axels parents. Even though he was stillborn, we know we will hold him again one day under different circumstances and the joy he gave us will be with us forever,” Erik Karlsson posted on Instagram.
On June 12, 2018, news came out that Melinda Karlsson had filed an application for an order of protection against Monika Caryk, the longtime girlfriend of Erik Karlsson’s then-teammate, Mike Hoffman. Her statements alleged months of harassment.
“Monika Caryk has uttered numerous statements wishing my unborn child dead,” reads Melinda Karlsson’s sworn statement to the court. “She also uttered that she wished I was dead and that someone should ‘take out’ my husband’s legs to ‘end his career.’ Monika Caryk has posted over 1,000 negative and derogatory statements about me as a professional.”
On June 19, Hoffman was traded by the Ottawa Senators to the San Jose Sharks. Ottawa GM Dorion said the move was an attempt to “to strengthen the future of the team by improving chemistry, leadership and character in the locker room and on the ice.”
“We are confident it is a step in the right direction for the long-term success of this organization,” reads Dorion’s statement on the Senators website.
5. Karlsson Is Coming Off an Unimpressive Season & Has Suffered Lower-Body Injuries
Erik Karlsson’s stats suffered in the 2017-18 season. While speculation has it that he had difficulty following the loss of his son, he also missed the first five games of the regular season rehabbing from offseason surgery.
In April2017, it came out after the Senators eliminated the Boston Bruins in the first round of the NHL Playoffs that Karlsson had been playing with two hairline fractures in his foot, according to the Ottawa Sun. Shortly after the Senators were eliminated from the 2017 playoffs, Karlsson underwent surgery to address the fractures and torn tendons in his left foot.
It was not the first lower-body injury Karlsson’s dealt with in his career. During the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, Karlsson played only 17 games, his Achilles tendon having been cut by the skate of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke, per USA Today. Karlsson was initially expected to miss four-to-six months but returned to the Senators lineup 10 weeks later.
Source: Heavy Sports