Off-Season Plan for the Ottawa Senators

Erik Karlsson. That’s going to be the entire talk of the off-season for the Ottawa Senators, and maybe even the NHL. But we usually talk about the draft first, so I guess we will continue with that trend.

The Sens have a choice between giving Colorado their first round pick this year or next year (part of the Matt Duchene trade) and it looks like they are going to keep the pick this year as it is 4th overall. I don’t blame them, 4th overall is a great pick and it’s a small chance they will be picking higher than that next year. If the Habs pick Tkachuk 3rd overall, then the Sens should pick Filip Zadina………. unless maybe they trade Karlsson (couldn’t go 1 paragraph without talking about him). I’m not saying they should pass up on Zadina, because he is an amazing sniper and will score many goals in this league. However if they trade Karlsson and don’t get a good defensemen back they could get another one via the draft, and there are 3 good ones right behind Zadina. Boqvist, Hughes and Bouchard are all talented defensemen I think the Sens should consider. At the end of they day though, I would pick Zadina with or without trading Karlsson, he’s to talented to pass up if he is available at number 4. They also will have a pick at number 22 thanks to the Penguins as part of the Derick Brassard trade. There will be many solid players to pick from at 22, but likely will be a player that might be a few seasons away from helping the Senators.

Now we all know the situation with Karlsson, so no point in me going over the last year. He is still a top 3 defensemen in this league without a doubt in my mind. He had so many hockey and non hockey related distractions last year and in what most people would call an “off-year” for the Sens captain, he still recorded 62 points. If the Sens trade him at the draft they will be able to get more draft picks at this years draft and that might be extremely helpful if they have another player in the first round that they really feel like they need to have. However if the Sens do trade him this summer I believe they should wait until around the middle of summer, and i’ll tell you why.

The Sens should wait until at least after July 1st so that they have some chance to negotiate a contract extension with Erik. If they can’t come close to an agreement and then an amazing offer comes in from another team they can then start thinking about that. If the Sens start pushing for a trade near the draft it shows 2 things that could hurt the Senators in trade negotiations. First off, it shows that the Sens believe they won’t be able to sign him even before they put an offer in to him, giving teams a sense of vulnerability. Secondly, if they involve a 1st round pick in this years entry draft in the trade talks, it then puts a deadline of when the trade would have to be finalized. Both situations could result in the Sens not getting the absolute best possible return for Karlsson, which could really hurt the Senators moving forward it what could be a possible rebuild.

If they do fully commit to a rebuild, trading Karlsson might end up simply being the best thing for it. The Sens have some young players like Tomas Chabot, Colin White and Nick Paul that are exciting, but its hard to say if any of them are going to be first line forwards or top 2 defensemen. Trading Karlsson would most likely get you a young player already in the NHL, an A level prospect, a 1st round draft pick and maybe even more. That could help speed up a rebuild, but at what cost. They would be loosing not only one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL, but their captain and from what we know, one of the most beloved people by his teammates and Senators fans. It would also turn owner Eugene Melnyk into even more of hated person by Sens fans. I think for this off-season the Sens should only trade him if its late July- early August and they truly believe there is no way they are going to be able to re-sign him. Even though it would help this team get a couple more top prospects, if they can re-sign him they have to, he’s such an irreplaceable player.

Now there is more to this team than just Erik Karlsson. Bobby Ryan still has 4 years left on his contract with an AAV of 7.25 million dollars. They have been trying to trade him and get rid of as much of that contract as they can for years now. I expect them to continue to try this summer, but good luck. They will also have to re-sign RFA Mark Stone, who has scored at least 20 goals and at least 50 points in the past 4 seasons. For a player with those stats and is only 26 years old, I would expect his next contract to be around the 5.5 million dollar AAV range with a lengthy term. There was also a lot of trade talk this season with Mike Hoffman. He is someone I could see the Sens using to get a top prospect back if they don’t trade Karlsson.

They also have a 37 year old goaltender in net. Now Craig Anderson is not a terrible goalie at all, but i’m not sure if he is still able to steal games for the Sens like he was just a few years ago. If the Sens aren’t super concerned about making the playoffs in the next 2 seasons, I feel like letting him finish out his contract with the Sens isn’t a bad idea. Then maybe at that time, prospect Filip Gustavsson will be ready to play for the Sens. If not, then they can then focus on getting a good backup/prospect from another team that they believe will become an NHL starter.

With Erik Karlsson being the biggest player possibly on the move this summer, a lot of attention is going to to be on the Ottawa Senators this off-season. With all due respect to all the other things the Senators will have to tackle this off-season, Erik Karlsson is way bigger than anything else for this team. What they decide to do with him might be the biggest decision in franchise history, so they have to get it right. So we end this article the way we started it, the off-season for the Ottawa Senators will be all about 1 player, Erik Karlsson.

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