It’s tough to make any sense of the dumpster fire that is the Ottawa Senators, who have consistently managed to butcher every existing avenue for improving the team. Erik Karlsson’s saga continues this week, with the Senators nowhere near a trade for the want-away superstar who rejected their eight-year, $80 million extension. Karlsson, you’ll recall, was reportedly dealt to Tampa Bay, pending a call with the NHL office.
And then he wasn’t. Suddenly, Dallas jumped in the mix and were reportedly front-runners until their refusal to include Miro Heiskanen dropped them down the ladder. Immediately afterward, Tampa Bay were again front-runners for the 27-year-old generational talent. And then, they signed Nikita Kucherov and Steve Yzerman claimed that a trade was never even close. Now, San Jose is reportedly back in on the superstar, even though NHL sources had expressed skepticism that the Sharks possessed the assets Ottawa wanted.
Last Karlsson update for a while, mainly bc the chilli fries are getting to me: Told talks ongoing, very fluid, and whatever else you wanna call it. Stars still very involved, made it clear they won’t move Heiskanen. Sharks also still in mix, among others. Now for pepto & a beer.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 10, 2018
Kucherov's deal was inevitable. Karlsson inking extension with next team, pending expected trade, is not a lock. Talk lately suggests if Karlsson doesn't immediately ink extension, significant conditional draft pick compensation will be part of a deal. #TheseAreTheDaysOfOurLives— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 10, 2018
Per Pagnotta, who also notes that the Lightning are still not out of the sweepstakes, any trade for Karlsson would be heavy on conditionals due to his pending UFA status. If San Jose were to swing a trade for the Swede, one could reasonably infer that it would involve a conditional first (likely unprotected), one of Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, and likely more. San Jose’s pipeline of sellable young talent is rather thin, with many of their prized assets being boom-or-bust players (Ryan Merkley, Jeremy Roy) that carry little in trade value for a myriad of reasons. A trade for Karlsson would be rather risky due to the uncertainty around his future, and while his talent is unquestionable, his desire to sign an extension certainly is.
Thankfully, the Senators are not the only organization bent on taking a dive this off-season, with the Montreal Canadiens engaging in a game of “anything you can do, I can do better” with their neighbors to the West. After being refused a meeting with John Tavares, the Canadiens saw captain Max Pacioretty switch agents and nix a draft-day deal with the Los Angeles Kings, stating instead that his preference was to re-sign in Montreal.
According to Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic, however, Bergevin recently informed Pacioretty that he has no plans to re-sign the winger and intends to deal him as soon as possible. San Jose was a mooted destination at the draft, and while the teams were never close to a deal (despite reports to the contrary), they did have discussions about the player, according to Kevin Kurz. With the Sharks looking to upgrade their forward corps after missing out on John Tavares, Pacioretty’s situation is certainly something to monitor as Wilson continues to seek all avenues to improve the team.
In other news, there is also an expectation around the league that pending UFA Matt Duchene will look to leave, making the Ottawa forward another possible target for the Sharks. Artemi Panarin, meanwhile, is reportedly being shopped around the league after refusing to sign an extension with Columbus due to an unwillingness to spend the next eight years of his life in Ohio. And Hurricanes GM Don Waddell has made it clear to everyone that Jeff Skinner is on the block and there for the taking.
There are plenty of opportunities available to improve the Sharks this summer, and while they would all involve a significant asset going the other way, any deal made would almost certainly improve the team in the short-term and make them the arguable favorites to come out of the West. Buckle up, because this summer is far from finished.