An Erik Karlsson trade seemed almost inevitable ahead of the Monday trade deadline, but GM Pierre Dorion didn’t pull the trigger. The Tampa Bay lightning sent Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, Vladislav Namestnikov, a conditional 2nd round pick, and Tampa’s 1st round pick to the New York Rangers for Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and F J T.Miller. Assuming this was similar to the offer for Erik Karlsson, you can see why a deal with never made. The asking price seemed to be significantly high, even for Erik Karlsson. The two-time Norris Trophy winner and Ottawa Senators captain will remain an Ottawa Senator…for now.
Where it all started
For reasons unknown (although there’s many speculations), it seems that there’s bad blood between Ownership and the superstar defenseman which led to the trade rumors. After Kyle Turris‘ departure, the accusations that Melnyk is the one who did not want Turris there seemed to have left a sour taste Karlsson’s mouth. He then watched his fellow defenseman and good friend Dion Phaneuf get moved; his teammates were dropping like flies!
This team was doing poorly and fans were growing tired of it and demanding change. On Twitter, the tag #MelnykOut became so popular that it was in the top 10 trending topics in Ottawa and when it came out that Erik Karlsson was being shopped around, the fans had enough. A GoFundMe account was started by a fan named Spencer Callaghan (@Senturion) to raise money for a MelnykOut billboard. The fans have spoken, Karlsson in, Melnyk out!
What the rest of the season will look like
The remainder of the season is going to be as awkward as it gets; Karlsson will be forced to answer media questions about his relationship with Melnyk and Dorion, he will be asked about wanting to be traded, and where he thinks they should go from here.
Fans and the media will have many questions about his future and his relationship with management and Eugene Melnyk. Being the pro athlete that Karlsson is, he’s going to say all the right things. The Ottawa Senators will continue to struggle to win games but at least Karlsson is still a Senator.
The summer options
After stressing over the last few weeks in anticipation of trade deadline day, the fans will go through all of those emotions again come July. The sentence “Erik wants to be a Senator for life” gets thrown around a lot by management, but does he really? Karlsson will be 28 when the next season starts; does he really have the time and patience to wait for a full-on rebuild? Here are the options:
- Erik Karlsson gets his big contract from the Ottawa Senators. You would be looking at a minimum 2 -3 years before the Senators are truly competitive again. By this time his defensive partner, Thomas Chabot, will have gained a lot of experience and ice time, Logan Brown would be a second/third year NHL’er, Drake Batherson will likely be on the path of becoming the young superstar that he is thought to be, Filip Chlapik would be an established NHL centerman, Alex Formenton would be a great 3rd or 4th line LW, and Christian Jaros would be developing into a fantastic second line defenseman. This team could have a very bright near-future.
- Erik Karlsson gets traded. One could only assume the return for Karlsson would be at least two roster players (one forward and one defenseman) who could do some damage immediately in October. Defensively, Ottawa would struggle but the growing pains would be worth it. Who would be the next captain? If Mark Stone signs a long term deal, he’s the man with the “C” on his chest. The process of becoming a contending team would be longer; however, the team would be filled with many high skilled and talented players.
The world loves Erik Karlsson. No matter where you’re from you’ve heard of him, seen his highlights, or were lucky enough to see him live. A fan favorite guy on and off the ice, the City of Ottawa would miss his charitable work, his talent on the ice and, of course, that smile and hairdo. Erik Karlsson could never be replaced but the team can move forward without him. It’s not the first time fans have had to say goodbye to an iconic player and it likely won’t be the last.