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The NHL awards ceremony has concluded, and Erik Karlsson has earned his third Norris trophy. During the event, Karlsson was asked about his future career plans and potential trade destinations. A reporter inquired about his thoughts on returning to the Ottawa Senators. Karlsson replied with the following statement.
“Ottawa? It is definitely an option. I love Ottawa, that’s no secret either. But again, we’ll see. Whether it happens now, in the next few days, or later this summer doesn’t really matter. I’m ready but we have time.” Ottawa Sun – Bruce Garrioch
But does it make any sense for the Ottawa Senators to bring back their beloved superstar defender?
Erik Karlsson Recent Years
Since his trade to the San Jose Sharks Erik Karlsson has had his ups in downs on the west coast. He has spent five seasons with the club and hadn’t played more than 56 games up until this year. Health has been a concern for Erik Karlsson ever since the trade, but it appears as though he is finally getting back to feeling 100%.
2018-2019 Season: 53 Games, 3 Goals, 42 Assists, 45 Points (16 Pts in 19 Playoff Games)
2019-2020 Season: 56 Games, 6 Goals, 34 Assists, 40 Points
2020-2021 Season: 52 Games, 8 Goals, 14 Assists, 22 Points
2021-2022 Season: 50 Games, 10 Goals, 25 Assists, 35 Points
2022-2023 Season: 82 Games, 25 Goals, 76 Assists, 101 Points
The productions when Karlsson is on the ice have never been much of a concern and he proved that again this year. In his first full season since 2015-2016, Karlsson put up career highs in goals, assists, and points. He was also the first defenceman in 31 years to reach the 100-point mark in a season.
On the flip side of this, Karlsson is a defensive liability who has never excelled in his own end. However, if you’re acquiring him you are betting on a guy who will heavily outscore his mistakes (which Karlsson often does).
Does Karlsson Fit With The Defence
As it stands today, the Senators have their top-4 defenders figured out for next season with Chabot, Sanderson, Chychrun, and Zub. If Karlsson was to be brought in, one of those players would likely be moved to make room on the roster and the salary cap.
With that being said, you would likely have to move out Chabot in a deal for Chychrun. In terms of cap structure, the Senators would still be adding $3.5 million annually in a Chabot/Karlsson move which would limit their ability to add key depth pieces.
While it is unlikely that Chabot reaches Karlsson-level production, he is still a very capable defender who is just entering his prime. Important to keep in mind is that Karlsson just had a career season at the age of 33 while Chabot had one of his weakest career years at just 26 years old.
The important thing to question is for how much longer Karlsson will be an upgrade on Chabot. If the Senators make this move they likely only have 1-2 more years of a superior defender. On top of that, the contract values will become more and more apparent over the next 4 years.
Does Karlsson To Ottawa Make Sense
While it would be an incredible story, Karlsson to Ottawa makes very little sense for the Senator’s organization. There are other ways that the Ottawa Senators could use the $11.5 million in cap space to bolster their lineup. Not to mention that they would have to give up a key piece of their lineup in Thomas Chabot to make the deal make sense.
If Karlsson was 3-4 years younger, this could be a real possibility for the Senators. But given the defender’s age, cap hit, and injury concerns, it is more of a fantasy than a reality.
Erik Karlsson will always hold a place in the hearts of Ottawa Senators fans but a reunion now seems very unlikely. However, in 4 years when Karlsson’s deal expires, a reunion could be in order.
Check out these articles talking more about Erik Karlsson with the Senators!
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