Late last week the Ottawa Senators traded their captain Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks. Many believe that this is a bad deal as Ottawa is not getting enough out of the trade. However, is it really that big of a deal? Ottawa hockey fans are loyal. To a fault. It’s hard to describe it but they really take it hard when one of their players leave. Karlsson had a great effect on Sens fans, and given the history that he’s had, it makes a lot of sense. Regardless of what anyone says – Karlsson excels on both ends of the ice and has defined the Senators team for quite some time now. During the 2017 playoffs, he recorded 18 points in 19 games, leading them to a conference final run that never should’ve happened. Like never, ever should’ve happened.
Beyond the talent Karlsson clearly displays, he is a mystical figure and sort of a part of the very essence of the Senators. As weird as this sounds, trading him is sort of like trading the team mascot. It just doesn’t make sense seeing him in other colors. But this has happened before. What about Daniel Alfredsson or Jason Spezza? These two, in addition to Karlsson, have been mainstays of the Ottawa Senators franchise, and for some reason, owner Eugene Melnyk feels like he can just take these players away. It doesn’t only hurt the team, but it also hurts the fans.
If Karlsson had been able to stay with the organization longer, he might have even surpassed Alfredsson as the greatest player to wear an Ottawa Senators jersey. When the mood strikes him, Karlsson is also a sensational defensive defenceman. He bought into what Senators coach Guy Boucher was selling throughout the 2016-17 season, as much of a standout around his own net as he was at the opposition’s net. While Karlsson has two Norris Trophy wins to his credit, it says here that his best season was in 2016-17, a year when Drew Doughty went on to win the top defenceman trophy.
But was this deal as bad as people think?
This trade can’t be considered good for fairly evident reasons. In exchange for the years of joy that Karlsson brought to Ottawa, the Senators received a group of players, none of whom scored more than 40 points last season, and some picks. Whenever the centerpiece of a team is traded, your team will feel broken next season, no matter what. Even if your team wasn’t very good the previous season, nothing will be the same. It’s going to take some time for the Senators to get back on track. Call it a rebuilding year for them. But what I still don’t get is why they would trade their centerpiece? Why not build the team around Karlsson? Especially when they aren’t doing that bad overall. Does Melynk think that he can get more out of these young players than he can Karlsson? And if that’s the case, I think he needs to rethink his strategy as I don’t know that it will land them a playoff spot.