It comes about a half-season too late, but longtime Senators blue-line rock Erik Karlsson is finally getting the hell out of the ruins of Ottawa. He’s getting dealt to the Sharks for kids and draft picks, and he’ll play the final season of his contract in San Jose before hitting a lucrative payday in unrestricted free agency. If the Sharks don’t lock him up long-term first:
If you can wrap your head around the fact that the Sens fell from Cup contenders to total disaster zone in less than a year, this is a reasonably decent deal for all involved. (Remember, for Ottawa, this is the return for a single year of Karlsson; they were never going to re-sign him.) Tierney had an encouraging 40-point season last year, but he and DeMelo are already in their mid-20s and likely destined to be filler bodies while the Senators rebuild. Norris, however, is a teenager, a 2017 first-round pick, and made solid contributions to Michigan’s Frozen Four team last year, while Balcers is a formerly unheralded Latvian 21-year-old who has yet to hit the ice in the NHL but killed it for the Sharks’ minor-league team last year, leading the AHL’s Barracuda in goals and points.
The Sharks in return get young Frances Perron, who probably isn’t that good, but they also receive a two-time Norris Trophy winner who, despite some injury concerns, still ranks among the absolute best two-way defensemen in the game. For an aggressive Sharks team that’s made big moves in 2018—including a trade for Evander Kane and the long-term signing of Logan Couture—Karlsson is a more than solid consolation prize after the franchise missed out on John Tavares this offseason. Almost as sweet, they also get to screw over division rivals Vegas, who reportedly wanted Karlsson too.
Karlsson wins the most, however, because he’s off an embarrassingly mismanaged and toxic Sens organization and onto a team that’s starting to believe that it could maybe (just maybe) gun for a Cup, with some more relaxing weather to boot. This Karlsson deal may not be quite as earth-shaking as, for example, a move to the Lightning could have been. But it’s about damn time Karlsson played someplace relevant again. Barring some major fuck-up in the upcoming season, he’ll be back in the playoffs where he belongs.