After the game on Monday night, Erik Karlsson skated around the ice to find the puck. Was this to give to a teammate who scored their first goal or got their first win or shutout?? Was it because it was a memorable game for the Senators franchise?? Was it for a bargaining chip in negotiation with Ottawa coming up??
Of course, the obvious answer from observers were that it’s because it’s Karlsson’s last game as a Senator and he wanted to remember it. With all the odd personnel moves in Ottawa– that’s a pretty safe bet to believe. Though he said he wanted to stay in Ottawa for the long-term, but at the same time– who wants to keep treading water with a team that doesn’t seem to have much direction to a Stanley Cup, despite being a season removed from the Conference Finals.
There’s not much else for Karlsson to accomplish in Ottawa outside of winning a Stanley Cup. Two-time Norris Trophy winner, took over the leadership role from Daniel Alfredsson (less the one year with Jason Spezza as captain), as well as leading the team in points for the last four seasons and being tied for the lead with Mark Stone this season. It’s now to focus on winning a Cup.
Can you fault Karlsson though?? They were a win away from a Cup Final, but then regressed to where they’re at now. Whether it’s management not willing to spend the money for the top players or coaches not knowing what to do with the players they have in their line-up– a lot is left to be desired in Ottawa these days in a “What have you done for me lately” sort of way.
Like I linked before, there’s a chance that Karlsson stays in Ottawa. He said he’s willing if he’s a part of the team’s future– which a team would be stupid if they didn’t slot in Karlsson to their future plans. In all honesty, it’s really if Karlsson’s money slots into the Senators plans above all else. That’s really what the debate is, if you pay one guy a load of money– you’ll have to skimp elsewhere. Karlsson has even said the team is a budget team. It’s almost worth the risk for someone like Karlsson to be in your plans. Of course, for Karlsson– it’s taking that brunt of failure if the Sens miss out on playoffs because they “can’t” get players due to a self-imposed cap. Now, that could be changing since Melnyk went over $70M this year for the first time ever– but you can’t expect that trend to continue if he’s trying to fight for a downtown arena and all that jazz.
Yet, let’s be honest– there’s going to be a bidding war of biblical proportions if Karlsson does indeed hit the open market. Teams would love to have a right-handed shot the pedigree of Karlsson in their line-up. Money be damned– you can only get someone of this skill and quality just starting their prime. It’ll be Karlsson’s pick of the litter at that point and where he could be most successful both in the individual sense, but in a team sense, as well.
There’s gonna be a lot of eyes in Ottawa in the spring and it’s not going to be because of a miracle playoff run. It’s to see whether this franchise values a franchise player that they have or let him walk away due to whatever odd reason that may come out. If the latter happens– expect the Canadian Tire Centre to be even more vacant than it has been. May want to look at moving back to the Ottawa Civic Centre to make it look more full.