Latest Senators and Stars Speculation – April 2, 2018
More speculation over Erik Karlsson’s future plus a look at possible offseason moves for the Dallas Stars in your NHL rumor mill.
IS KARLSSON PLAYING HIS FINAL HOME GAME WITH SENATORS?
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren wonders if tonight’s contest against the Winnipeg Jets might be the final home game for Erik Karlsson with the Ottawa Senators. Karlsson has one year remaining on his contract and the Senators hope to re-sign him this summer, but Warren is curious over how much they’re willing to spend. “Eight years and $80 million? Eight years and $90 million? $100 million, anyone?”
If the Senators win the 2018 NHL Draft lottery, it would put them in line to select Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. Warren thinks that would generate “a steady stream of trade speculation involving Karlsson” leading up to the opening round of the draft on June 22.
It also remains to be seen if Karlsson wants to be part of a rebuilding club. Warren notes the Senators captain, who has a 10-team list of trade destinations, was “very much in play” leading up to this year’s NHL trade deadline. He and Bobby Ryan were rumored to be heading to a Western Conference team in a package deal by deadline day.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson’s going to be part of a steady stream of trade speculation regardless of whether or not the Sens win the draft lottery. It’s believed they were close to shipping Karlsson and Ryan to the Vegas Golden Knights before the deadline but the deal apparently fell through. It’s possible the two clubs could revisit those discussions leading up to the draft. If not, perhaps the Senators will start looking around for potential suitors once the playoffs end in June.
The earliest the Senators can re-sign Karlsson is July 1. It’s going to cost the Sens a lot of money on a long-term deal to keep him in the fold. He’s indicated he won’t accept a hometown discount. If they’re engaging in a full rebuild, Karlsson and/or the Sens front office could decide it’s time to part ways.
SOME SUGGESTED OFFSEASON MOVES FOR THE STARS
THE ATHLETIC: With the Dallas Stars’ playoff hopes fading, Sean Shapiro was recently asked about their possible offseason moves in a recent mailbag segment. His checklist includes buying out fading veteran forward Jason Spezza or picking up part of his $7.5-million cap hit on the remaining year of his salary in order to trade him.
Shapiro also feels they need to build up their second line via trades or free agency. While that won’t be easy, he observed the Stars have the cap space to take some of the burden off their top line. He suggested trading for Ottawa Senators winger Mark Stone at the draft.
As for the Stars’ unrestricted free agents, Shapiro believes goaltender Kari Lehtonen and defenseman Dan Hamhuis won’t be re-signed. He also felt blueliner Greg Pateryn could be moving on but has a gut feeling Antoine Roussel could be back, though he’s “not sure if there is a contractual number that works for both sides.” Shapiro doesn’t believe the Stars will move their first-round pick in this year’s draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars’ late-season collapse could spur more roster changes this summer. It might not include acquiring Stone from Ottawa. During the blizzard of speculation involving the Senators leading up to the trade deadline, his name was rarely mentioned as a trade candidate. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and it’s believed the Sens intend to keep him. Of course, if he does hit the trade block the Stars would probably be interested, However, they’ll have competition from a number of NHL clubs hoping to pry him away from the Sens.
After tallying 50 points in 68 games in 2016-17, Spezza’s managed just 26 points in 75 games this season. He turns 35 in June and the wear and tear of 15 NHL campaigns could be catching up with him. Perhaps he also feels stymied under coach Ken Hitchcock’s system. Whatever the reason, the Stars will have to pick up a big chunk of that cap hit to move him. They could explore that option in late-June and perhaps buy him out by June 30 if there aren’t any takers. As per Cap Friendly, they’ll free up $5 million in cap space if they go the buyout route.