When management and ownership came out last week and essentially said that the organization had two untouchables on the roster – Daniel Alfredsson and an unnamed player assumed to be Erik Karlsson – it got me thinking about Ottawa’s young defenceman and whether or not he should be categorized as untouchable.
I’m guessing that some of you are probably wondering why I would consider trading the youngest and best asset that the Senators have on their roster right now. Let me first start out by saying that I do not have a problem moving forward with Erik Karlsson as a building block for this franchise. However, if you had listened to one of the most recent episodes of The 6th Sens Podcast, you will know that I’m not adverse to moving the defenceman if it means that the Senators can parlay him into a better two-way defenceman who can be counted on to play against the opposition’s top line on a nightly basis.
Someone like Shea Weber for example.
Hey, it’s completely wishful thinking on my part but because of the contract negotiations between the Nashville Predators and Weber, maybe it’s possible that he could be made available. In an article earlier this season, ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun discussed three scenarios that could come from Weber’s negotiations:
1. He signs an extension and life is good in Music City.
2. He does only a one-year deal to bridge himself to his UFA year and he can do this by going to salary arbitration next summer.
3. The Preds get nervous they can’t sign him to a long-term extension and put him on the trade block over the summer.
In an ESPN Chat with Lebrun yesterday, I posed the question – Is there any update on Shea Weber’s contract negotiations? Is the possibility that the Preds may not be able to extend him real?
Pierre responded by saying – Sorry don’t have an update. But that will be one to watch. He’s one year removed from UFA… if he doesn’ t sign a long-term extension by this summer, what do you do if you’re Nashville? You have to shop him. Right, so please don’t mistake this as some contrived argument designed to further the notion that Weber won’t re-sign in Nashville. For all intents and purposes, he still is expected to be retained by the organization. However, for entertainment, let’s assume that Lebrun’s third scenario plays itself out. Would this not be the kind of situation that you would want to see the Senators exploit? I mean, how often does a dominant young defenceman become available?
Obviously moving an asset like Karlsson would be a difficult decision but this is all about trading potential for a proven good. As much as this organization has a tendency to romanticize its core players and prospects, if management has the opportunity this summer to acquire a 25-year old defenceman who is amongst the top five in his position, they have to be aggressive in their pursuits. (Please note: Obviously the caveat to any trade with Nashville would be a contract extension for Weber. If you can’t get a window to negotiate an extension, you walk away or try and negotiate some conditional compensation in the event that you can’t sign him.)
Shea would represent the legitimate number one defenceman that the organization has lacked since Zdeno Chara left for Boston. Personally, I look at a player like Karlsson and wonder if his size and strength will prevent him from being anything more than the next Phil Housley – a speedy offensive defenceman but whose defensive shortcomings prevented him from being mentioned in the same breath as some of the greats from the ’80’s and early-’90’s eras.
More importantly, if Ottawa’s serious about making a bid for Weber, Karlsson’s market value might never be higher. Let’s look at some quick facts:
- He would have a year left on his inexpensive entry level contract.
- He appeared in his first All-Star Game this season.
- He could very well lead the Senators in scoring by the end of the season.
- He’s a young asset who would be under team control for many more years.
- If another organization threatened Nashville with an offer sheet, odds are that Weber wouldnt’ sign it unless he was being egregiously overpaid or he was signing with a Cup contender. If compensation was looking like it would be two low first rounders, a second and a third, wouldn’t you prefer a NHL-ready package involving Karlsson?
Unlike two days ago when I criticized Pierre McGuire’s disregard for the future ramifications of an offer sheet for Zach Parise, I believe acquiring Weber for a package centered around Erik Karlsson would do less irreparable damage to the team’s system and would put the organization in a greater position to contend when the rest of Ottawa’s prospects – including this year’s projected lottery pick – are ready to contribute?
Should a guy like Karlsson be untouchable? Have at it in the comment thread…