The New York Islanders have expressed interest in acquiring defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators, according to reports.
On Monday, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reported that the Islanders have expressed interest in a sign-and-trade with the Ottawa Senators for Erik Karlsson. If a deal comes to fruition, this would be a game-changer for the organization.
Less than thirty-six hours before the Pagnotta report, the Islanders lost captain John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs, creating a massive leadership and talent void. Karlsson would fix that problem.
Karlsson, who will turn 29 next May, has been the Senators’ captain since the 2014-15 season. The Sens drafted him fifteenth overall in the 2008 NHL Draft after the team finished the previous season with a 43-31-8 record.
But with the Senators in turmoil, Karlsson is on the trade block. In the past few months, former players have called for owner Eugene Melnyk to sell the club. With 20-goal scorer Mike Hoffman shipped off and assistant general manager Randy Lee suspended, Karlsson’s future is on uncertain terms.
If Pagnotta is correct in his reporting, then the Vegas Golden Knights and New York Rangers are just some of the teams expressing interest in acquiring both Karlsson and Bobby Ryan from the Senators.
Ryan, 31, is a 6-2, 209-pound left winger. He notched 11 goals and 22 assists in 62 games last season. Ryan carries a cap hit of $7,500,000 million and is under contract until after the 2021-22 campaign.
Due to his considerable money and term, as well as the Senators’ likely desire to undergo at least a mild rebuild, taking on Ryan’s contract would be a good first step for a potential suitor.
But as Pagnotta points out, not every potential trade includes Ryan. The Islanders, for instance, have been discussing a deal that wouldn’t include the Cherry Hill native. What would such a move look like?
The Islanders may appear to be lacking in assets, but they are not lacking in prospects. After making two selections in the first and second rounds of this year’s draft, the Islanders should not have the same attachment to future draft picks that they might have once had.
Fans have tossed around names like Brock Nelson, Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang, but these guys aren’t likely to get a deal done. For the Isles to get, they are going to have to give. This means draft picks, prospects and established talent.
It might hurt, but that’s to be expected.
Karlsson is such a sought-after defenseman because of his hockey sense, puck-moving control and offensive ability. The Swede posted nine goals and 53 assists in 71 games last season, while logging 26:44 a game.
At just 6-0, 191 pounds, a common criticism of Karlsson is that he isn’t an ideal shutdown blueliner. This is fairly accurate. Karlsson posts flashy numbers and is one of the top offensive defensemen in the game, but occasionally leaves what to be desired on the other end.
The Islanders were porous defensively last season, finishing last in goals-against and save percentage. With Calvin de Haan on the open market and Jaro Hálak in Boston, the team needs a rebranding.
Lou Lamoriello, the Hall of Fame executive hired by the Islanders in late May to turn things around, is hoping for a better outcome with Karlsson that he had with Tavares, Carter Hutton, David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly.
For all the promises of a better future — an improved front office and coaching staff, a new arena, a lauded draft class — this summer is starting to feel eerily similar to those of years’ past.
While the Isles have struck out on a bunch of highly-touted unrestricted free agents, it’s the signing of a couple of fourth liners that has baffled fans the most.
The Islanders need to turn things around. Karlsson would be a huge first step.