Five Thoughts For Friday: Karlsson, Pinto and More!

In a shocking turn of events, I have things to say about Erik Karlsson

King Karl

We’re closing in on five years since one of the most consequential transactions in Sens history - the trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for, among other things, Josh Norris and the draft pick that would become Tim Stützle. The second trade of Karlsson’s career has happened with much less fanfare, as the reigning Norris trophy winner was shipped off to Pittsburgh this week to help Crosby & co. make one last push for a championship.

It’s been long enough now that a lot of the initial pain from the trade has faded - and I know there’s a large contingent of Sens fans who consider all forgiven because of how well it worked out for Ottawa - but it still sucks to see him play for Pittsburgh specifically.

Karlsson was the best player to ever wear a Senators uniform. Ottawa has had plenty of plucky underdog stories and fan favourites with Sens vibes, but Karlsson was legitimately cool, and recognized around the league as a true superstar. There was something special about him being our guy. Seeing him join the lineup of a team that apparently has to have at least two world-class superstars at all times feels wrong.

He also played the best hockey of his career against the Penguins. That series featured such a strong underdog narrative, with the Sens taking on the defending cup champions. As if winning the series and then the Cup wasn’t enough, now they have to rub it in even more by taking our star player from us. Evil.

Kyle Dubas, you will pay for your crimes.

Pinto’s contract

We’ve reached the part of the offseason where we start looking at those to-do lists we wrote at the start of the summer and wondering what the hold up is with those last few tasks. Last year, Dorion got all the important RFA signings (by which I mostly mean Josh Norris) done nice and early, but this year the task is proving to be a lot more complicated.

With the DeBrincat situation sorted out for better or worse, Shane Pinto is now the big name, and obviously his situation is very different than Norris’s was last year. For one, the Sens are straight up out of cap space, so they need to make at least one more move before they can sign him, and the amount he’s asking for will determine how dramatic those moves have to be. Beyond that, though, Pinto’s role on the team is different. Despite putting up a perfectly respectable 20 goals and 15 assists in his rookie season - one of the more impressive statlines among rookies in 2022-23 - he struggled at times and didn’t generate much offense for his teammates. He looked far more comfortable on the third line than in the second line centre position he was forced into because of Josh Norris’s injury. He certainly has a place on this team, but it seems highly unlikely he’s going to get paid like a top-six forward when he’s clearly more suited for the third line and Ridly Greig might very well be able to fill that spot as well.

In the flat cap era, a lot of teams have been signing their young players to long-term deals right out of their ELCs in the hopes of getting great value out of the last few years of their contracts - something the Sens have been doing since before it was cool. However, we’re also seeing teams allocate less and less cap space to their bottom six players. Unless he’s willing to take a massive discount on a long-term deal, it feels like a bridge deal with bottom six money is the best option for both parties here.

The cap situation is ridiculous

It was always going to be difficult for the Sens to fit under the cap this year, with new contracts needing to be signed and the cap not going up. I’m not surprised, but it’s still been pretty wild to see how easy it is to run out of cap space. What’s especially striking is the fact that the Sens haven’t even been irresponsible with that cap space: The Athletic recently ranked them 10th in the league in contract efficiency, with their only "bad" contracts being Norris and Chabot - two players who might be a bit overpaid but certainly not egregiously so. When we talk about needing to free up cap space to make room for Shane Pinto, we’re talking about getting rid of useful players like Mathieu Joseph, not your typical cap dumps. Something is wrong if a team that didn’t even make the playoffs last year and is projected to be a bubble team this year can be capped out without any truly bad contracts on the books.

We need to see Brady Tkachuk win the cup

Wedding season is coming to an end, and Brady Tkachuk has been spotted in the middle of numerous shenanigans, some during his own wedding and some at other people’s. He’s been singing The Killers without a shirt on, he’s been lifting his short friends on his shoulders at weddings, and he was even spotted wearing crocs to the bar on his honeymoon. I love that our captain is so goofy, and I absolutely need to see him lead a Stanley Cup parade. No one has ever been more worthy of drop-kicking the Stanley Cup into the Rideau Canal.


The QMJHL announced yesterday that fighting will no longer be allowed in their league - a controversial decision in a sport that is very much known in broader culture for the frequent fights. Some say that this decision will hurt players, who won’t learn how to fight before reaching the NHL and might hurt themselves when they’re finally allowed to fight. However, I think it’s becoming more and more clear that fighting is being phased out in hockey, and I think that’s a good thing. Junior hockey especially is fast-paced and more than exciting enough without the fights, which I find often slow down the game more than anything else.

Players don’t have to fight to make it in the NHL, and if they want to, they can always learn when they get there. Encouraging teenagers to fight each other all the time seems like a much bigger risk to their health than sending young players - who are usually being protected by their teammates anyways - into the NHL without any fighting experience.

Fighting can be fun in moderation, but players should learn how to play without the constant fights. This continued evomution will be good for the game.

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