On July 5th, TSN 1200 personality Shawn Simpson sent the entire Ottawa Senators fanbase into a frenzy:
My NHL sources tell me a Karlsson deal to Tampa is done, pending a call with the league office. @TSN1200— Shawn Simpson (@TSNSimmer) July 6, 2018
However, others on Twitter dialed that back, and now five days later, we’re still waiting on any other concrete news. Depending on the day, hour, or even minute, any one of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, or Vegas Golden Knights can be reported as the favourites to land star defenceman Erik Karlsson:
Hearing the rumblings and got a good feeling we may finally be getting close to a conclusion with the Lightning and Erik Karlsson. Stay Tuned.— Mike Cairns (@MikeCairns5) July 9, 2018
The Karlsson trade discussions have heated up significantly over the last 24 hours. Told Vegas still very much in mix. Rangers no longer part of equation. Other teams involved in race.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 3, 2018
That being said, it’s been relatively quiet since July 5th. Nobody of repute is saying that a trade is on the near horizon. No new offers or teams have shown up. It’s also very hard to gauge what’s actually happening, with conflicting reports coming out every day, tweets claiming a trade is “imminent” coming out every day, and nary a word from top insider Bob McKenzie. It leaves us to speculate in the dark repeatedly.
For example, today the Lightning signed Nikita Kucherov to an eight-year, $9.5M contract. Some would have you think that this contract takes Tampa out of the running for Karlsson, while others will tell you the cost certainty makes them more eager to add Karlsson. The Bolts were always going to have to find a third party to take Ryan Callahan and maybe more (Dan Girardi?) off their hands so they could fit in Karlsson. The Kucherov extension just lets them know how much salary on the books they need to offload.
From my reading of the rumours, it seems that the Sens are hung up on the quality of players coming back from other teams. From the Stars, that player is undoubtedly Miro Heiskanen. He looks to be an absolute stud, based on his age-18 performance against men:
Miro Heiskanen was the highest point-producing d-man in Finland's Liiga this past season. He is 18 years young. pic.twitter.com/RA7flHC32H— Paul (@Sens_Army_) July 4, 2018
Dallas has thus far refused to trade Heiskanen. This has obviously led to the trotting out of the infamous Family Guy meme, but I kind of get Dallas’s hang-up: if Dorion has a history of losing trade, and you know his hands are tied on this, why open up with your best offer? See if you can bleed out a GM in a tough spot who eventually just has to take the best he can get. For what it’s worth, I’m guessing some combination of Mikhail Sergachev, Brayden Point, and Cal Foote are being discussed with the Lightning, while Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, Cody Glass, and Nick Suzuki are up for discussion with the Golden Knights.
For now, Ottawa seems to be holding tight because the return offers are not what they’re hoping for. Whether anyone ups the ante remains to be seen. I’m happy Dorion is sticking to his guns, realizing that the Karlsson trade needs to be a home run if he’s actually going to build a great franchise. The front-runners (Dallas, TB, Vegas being the only ones mentioned repeatedly for the past couple weeks) look to keep waiting to see if the price comes down. What’s unclear is how long Dorion thinks he can wait. Is he willing to enter the season with Karlsson still on the roster? A dressing room that was already rumoured to be troubled last season (Alexandre Burrows’ most recent interview certainly adds to those rumours) wouldn’t be helped by bringing in a player that everyone’s been told is on the verge of leaving town. Could you bring Karlsson back as captain when everyone expects him to be traded? Could you strip him of his captaincy, anoint Mark Stone the captain, and have him still come to training camp? None of these options seem enviable. Which is likely why the front-runners in the trade market keep waiting. They have good reasons to believe Dorion will eventually cave and take the best offer available.
So the next time you see that a trade is imminent, feel free to turn off your smartphone and go to bed. It probably isn’t.
Except at some point it will be. My advice is to wait for Bob McKenzie’s confirmation.