The San Jose Sharks acquired two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, making a blockbuster addition to the roster after missing out on high-scoring center John Tavares in free agency.
At his press conference today after the deal that sent him to the San Jose Sharks for a package of six assets, Karlsson was seemingly in disbelief of what had just transpired. With the Senators organization unravelling over the course of the 2017-18 season and suffering significant turmoil this off-season, it appeared unlikely that the slick-skating blue-liner would be in Ottawa much longer.
The Senators dealt Karlsson and prospect forward Francis Perron to the Sharks. Karlsson said the deal still came as a shock but he is eager to begin work on a team that made the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 and lost to Vegas in the second round a year ago.
The Senators, his only club in nine National Hockey League campaigns, offered him a contract extension in July but he would not re-sign with Ottawa. "We didn't feel (in July) we were getting the return for an Erik Karlsson-type of player".
With the season right around the corner, this deal could be finished soon.
Ottawa receives San Jose's first-round choice in either 2019 or 2020 (not lottery protected). That pick becomes a first if the Sharks make the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.
Karlsson, who took over as captain in 2014, says he will continue to give back to the city he now calls his "forever home".
"I'm heartbroken", said Matt Melbourne, a self-described "huge Sens fan" who happened to be wearing a red Senators T-shirt when someone told him about the trade.
"It's very unfortunate that I'm going to have to move on professionally", Karlsson said. "But again, I never, in my wildest imagination, ever thought that I was going to leave this place". He made his Senators debut in 2009 and won his first Norris Trophy two years later at age 21.
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Karlsson's breakout season came in 2011-12 when he had 78 points (19 goals, 59 assists), while averaging 25:19 of ice time, but his performance in the 2017 playoffs stands out.
Karlsson, whose contract expires at the end of this season, doesn't quite see it that way.
"Yes, it's a longterm approach", Wilson said on a conference call, when asked about a potential contract extension for the two-time Norris Trophy victor and five-time All-Star.
Will they be treated objectively by a frustrated fan base naturally looking to vent at what has been lost?
Though there had been talk about Karlsson's departure since the trade deadline last February, this will still come as a shock.
Then assistant general manager Randy Lee was charged with harassing a 19-year-old male hotel shuttle driver in Buffalo, N.Y., during the NHL's pre-draft scouting combine.
Karlsson's reaction to the news is not so surprising.
Lee, who was also GM of the Senators' AHL affiliate, resigned from both jobs with the organization last month.