NHL Rumor Mill – August 22, 2018
Latest on the Ottawa Senators in your NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: In his “State of the Franchise” analysis of the Ottawa Senators, Chris Stevenson reports they are “mired in uncertainty” with top players such as defenseman Erik Karlsson and forwards Matt Duchene and Mark Stone eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July. Trade rumors have dogged Karlsson, who rejected the club’s contract extension last month. It’s possible the trio could be gone by the trade deadline.
Stevenson said there’s no indication of progress toward a contract extension with Duchene. He also notes goaltender Craig Anderson, who’s entering a two-year contract worth $9.5 million, wouldn’t mind being traded.
NBC SPORTS: In his “Three Questions” assessment of the Senators, Joey Alfieri wonders what will happen to Karlsson. The Senators were reportedly close to moving the All-Star defenseman to the Vegas Golden Knights at last season’s trade deadline but the deal fell through. There was an expectation he’d be traded during the 2018 NHL Draft weekend or in early-July but so far general manager Pierre Dorion hasn’t found a suitable deal.
Alfieri feels the Senators are either still holding out for the best deal or perhaps they’re hoping to re-sign Karlsson following the trade of winger Mike Hoffman, whose fiancee faced allegations of cyberbullying Karlsson’s wife. “For that to happen, owner Eugene Melnyk is going to have shell out some serious coin over the next few years. And, of course, they have to pray to the 28-year-old is willing to look past all the warts and deficiencies of his current team.”
Alfieri also reports GM Pierre Dorion faces considerable pressure this season. Trading Karlsson, who has a year left on his contract, won’t be easy. Complicating matters could be owner Eugene Melnyk’s insistence that teams pursuing the Senators captain also take on the hefty contract with winger Bobby Ryan, who has four years left on his deal with an annual average value of $7.25 million. He also faces a difficult challenge attempting to re-sign Duchene and Stone.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season could be one of the most crucial in Senators history. If they’re forced to trade away Karlsson, Duchene and Stone, they’ll have to undergo a major roster rebuild that could take years to complete. That won’t help attract disgruntled fans who’ve grown weary of the club’s direction in recent years under Melnyk’s ownership.
If Dorion is forced to shop those three he’ll obviously try to get the best return possible. However, their respective UFA statuses could affect their trade value. If he waits too long in hopes of driving up the asking price, he could end up having to accept much less as the trade deadline approaches.
Insisting on Ryan being included in a Karlsson deal seems like a deal breaker. Most clubs aren’t interested in taking on his full salary. The Sens might have to absorb part of his cap hit to make such a move palatable.
As for Anderson, there are teams that could be in the market for a starting goalie as the upcoming season progresses. Much will depend upon his play through 2018-19. There probably isn’t much call for a 37-year-old netminder coming off the type of performance he had last season.