The writing has been on the wall for months.
Those few weeks leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline should have give us all a good indication of where things really stood.
As rumours swirled, both Pierre Dorion and Erik Karlsson opted for complete silence. Rather than come out and make a reassuring statement about Karlsson’s future in Ottawa, both guys went into hiding. And by doing so, they let the rumour mill run wild.
Karlsson stayed beyond the deadline though.? But then it happened again at the Draft. Respected insiders from around the league talked about the inevitability of an Erik Karlsson trade. Again, rather than make a statement about how important Karlsson was to the team or about how hard they were going to work to get him signed, Dorion again refused to comment.? The Draft came and went but Karlsson’s status remained murky at best.
And then July 1st. The start of free agency another pressure point in the Karlsson saga.? The Senators could now officially table their highly anticipated offer. And they did so although according to some, the 8 year/$80 million offer was first made a couple months ago.? It would have been a reasonable place to kick off contract talks but this was never going to be a negotiation.? The number on that piece of paper was irrelevant.? What mattered was who was going to sign the cheque.
On Canada Day, Dorion confirmed that an offer had been made but refused to say anything beyond that.
So Erik Karlsson, the Captain of the team and the face of the franchise, remained an Ottawa Senator.? But it felt like it was only a matter of time. And last night, news that all but sealed his fate.
According to Larry Brooks (and confirmed by others since then), the Senators have granted Karlsson and his agent permission to talk to other teams about an extension.
Senators have given interested teams permission to talk contract extension with Karlsson. Sounds as if he is looking for Doughty deal (8×11)
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) July 2, 2018
It’s a step that is usually saved for instances where a deal is close. And while that does not appear to be the case here, it’s a strong indication that both the Senators and Karlsson know exactly where this is headed.
In this case, it seems like Dorion is hoping that by allowing teams to talk to Karlsson, he might be able to attract a couple new teams into the discussions.
If a team was hesitant about trading for Karlsson without a guarantee he’d sign an extension, this allows them to talk to him first and see where they stand. Karlsson can still hand-pick who he’s willing to sign an extension with but maybe a new option catches his eye.
To this point, all the talk seems to circle around Vegas, Tampa Bay and most recently, the New York Rangers.? We’ll see if this latest move brings more teams to the table.
One thing is clearer than ever though- Erik Karlsson’s time with the Ottawa Senators is coming to an end.
And that fucking sucks.