Silver Nuggets: How much is Erik Karlsson worth?

Erik Karlsson appears to be taller than this Leafs guy. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Yesterday, James Gordon wrote an article stating that Erik Karlsson is the undisputed #1 defenceman on the club and asks if this is the year that Erik Karlsson starts breaking club records. The Senators single season club record for goals by a defenceman is 19 (Steve Duchesne), for assists it is 46 (Norm Maciver) and for points it is 63 also by Maciver. So far this season, Karlsson leads the NHL in assists and is second in points behind Kris Letang.

At the end of this season, Karlsson will also be a restricted free agent. So what kind of contract can we expect him to get? If you read some of the comments in the article mentioned above, some fans would like Karlsson to struggle this season so he can be signed for a cheap contract. This seems pretty counter-productive to me.

For argument's sake, say he doesn't break any records, but has 55 points and improves defensively. What kind of money and cap hit would he get? The worst thing the Senators can do is sign him to a four year deal, as that will take him exactly to unrestricted free agency. A three years or shorter deal will leave Karlsson as a restricted free agent at the end of the deal. Anything over four years will "save" his UFA years. Karlsson will be 22 at the end of his contract, so an 8-year $40 million deal would keep him from testing the market until age 30.

The cap has risen 64.87% since 2005-2006, or a growth of 8.69% annually. Assuming the growth slows down (since the US television deal is locked in) to say 5% annually, then in six years the cap will be 34% higher and in 8 years it will be 47.7% higher. Assuming the Senators spend to the cap, then Karlsson's $5 million cap hit at age 28 will be the equivalent of $3.3 million and $2.61 million at age 30. The Senators will be likely getting a huge bargain at the end of the deal, but is Karlsson worth $5 million in next couple seasons? It depends on how this season goes. If he continues to play in all situations and excels offensively, I would say yes. As a comparable, Kris Letang, a very similar player to Karlsson (without the dirty on Jason Spezza) signed a 4-year $14 million deal. Letang, however, did this after putting up a 27 point season. I would be shocked if Karlsson is signed that cheaply.

Now if the new CBA changes the UFA qualification rules, then of course this is all irrelevant. But do we want to wait until a new one is signed and risk an offer sheet, as rare as they are?

Links after the jump.

General Sens News

  • Paul MacLean shuffles the lineup tonight with Bobby Butler replacing Erik Condra and Brian Lee replacing Zenon Konopka. I don't think Lee is playing as a forward, as MacLean mentions he wants to manage the minutes better. I would guess Sergei Gonchar is going to play a lot less tonight if he struggles. Nikita Filatov sits again, which is disappointing to me. (Senators Extra)
  • Here is the game preview for tonight. Craig Anderson will play against his old club and Gabriel Landeskog will play his first NHL game in Ottawa. (Senators Extra)
  • An optimistic prediction panel tonight with everyone predicting a win except two. Peter predicts 2-0 Ottawa. (Senators Extra)
  • The Senators are going to have to make a roster move soon. They simply have too many players at the moment. Perhaps David Rundblad returns to the AHL when Matt Carkner returns. But at forward? Jesse Winchester is going to be back in a couple of weeks to add to an already crowded set. (Ottawa Citizen)
  • Colin Greening has had a decent start and is tied for the team lead with two goals. While his line didn't create too much last time, he did score the tying goal after some great effort. (Ottawa Citizen)
  • Craig Anderson wanted to stay in Colorado but couldn't get a new deal done. Colorado must have really not valued him too much, as they settled for receiving Brian Elliott for him. (Ottawa Citizen)

General Hockey News

  • After Don Cherry's rant last week, CBC felt it was needed to distance themselves from Cherry's views. Harrison Mooney mentions that Cherry is employed exactly because he says controversial stuff (I love watching him, not because I agree with anything he says, but mostly for laughs). While he is arguably xenophobic with some of his views, now that he has attacked Canadian players, will he still be respected and tolerated? (Yahoo!)
  • According to at least one poll, the majority of Canadians (63%) feel fighting should be banned and that headshots are avoidable. While I support a complete ban, I don't know if the fans at games agree with this. (Globe and Mail)
  • Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact in practice, so he shouldn't be too far off from a return. (Rob Rossi)
  • Have we already seen the best of Alexander Ovechkin? After a career worst 85 points (HA!) last season, Ovechkin has only the one assist so far in two games. Wiil Ovechkin ever get back to the levels where he scored an incredible 65 goals in 2007-2008? I think he can, but if he has another "bad" season, it might have to be considered. Sens fans will get to see him on Saturday when Ottawa visits Washington. (Yahoo!)
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