An Elliotte Friedman tweet sent out Wednesday concerning his latest intel on the Erik Karlsson trade front whet the appetites of hockey fans hungry for training camp to arrive.
Thursday, during an afternoon appearance on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960, the NHL Insider was asked if he’d heard anything new concerning Karlsson since sending out that tweet.
“To be honest, I’ve really tried to be careful with Karlsson because there have been so many stops and starts," said Friedman. "One of the stories I was telling yesterday was there was an assistant GM who called me and said, ‘So let me get this straight. You guys said he was getting dealt at the deadline, and it didn’t happen. And then there was the report two months ago that it was going to happen and it didn’t happen. Now we’re going to believe you?’
“So I understand that. I understand that there’s a healthy dose of skepticism about that. I think everybody probably, including Karlsson, is tired of it. But I do believe in the last few days that there has been sort of an uptick in teams kind of checking in and seeing, ‘Where are we.’
“And it makes sense. It’s the end of the summer. I had a couple of guys tell me yesterday, ‘You know, one of the things that really helps is a lot of the reporters aren’t covering hockey right now. They’re doing their secondary things, and they’re not looking that deeply into it. So you kind of have a bit of a quieter time to be able to do things. And I think there were some teams that were looking to take advantage of that.
“I don’t think there’s anything imminent, but I do think it’s picked up and we’ll see if we get some momentum here over the next few days. I think the thing is trying to separate the serious teams from the ones who are kind of kicking tires.”
Friedman was asked if he had the sense that either from the Senators’ perspective, or the team trying to acquire him, that they’d like to get a trade done before the season gets underway.
“I think in an ideal world people would like this to happen before the season,” said Friedman. “I think Karlsson, it’s not easy on him and his family. I don’t think it’s easy on the Senators. I don’t think it’s easy on the fans. You have to make the best deal you can, but I think you also don’t want this to be a circus.
“If you remember Ottawa a few years ago, they had Dany Heatley show up the first day of training camp and he didn’t want to be there and they went and they shipped him out that day. They were like, ‘We can’t do this anymore.’ I think there is a little bit of that.
“I think there’s a bit of fatigue and I think everybody would like to move on, but I do know one of the reasons he hasn’t been traded yet is that Ottawa has felt the offers haven’t been there.
“So while I think they’d like to do it, they’ve proven by now that they won’t do it unless they get what they want.”
Thursday’s radio segment rolled on, and Friedman was asked about reports surfacing that day with the notion that Karlsson would prefer not to sign an extension with any Canadian teams.
“I was travelling back today from Winnipeg from the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre event last night,” noted Friedman. “I heard that when I landed. I have to admit I had not heard that. I’m not surprised that it came out the day after I linked Vancouver to them, that Vancouver was a team taking a look, which the Canucks denied. So I’m not surprised at the timing of it.
“I can’t say to you 100 percent I’ve heard that, but when you take a look at the state of a lot of Canadian teams right now - if winning is what he wants to do the most - in terms of cap room and opportunity there isn’t really opportunity for a lot there. So I’m not surprised.
“I figured that Toronto might take a shot at him for a rental. But I can’t see a situation where they’re going to be able to fit him in long term. So you tell me where else in the country would he sign long term with right now that could fit him and that he could win at. I don’t know if there is another situation.
“So I can’t tell you I’ve heard that, but it makes a lot of sense to me, and the timing of it makes sense to me because of the Vancouver thing yesterday.”
Getting down to the heart of the matter, Friedman was asked which teams could be serious contenders with a legitimate shot to acquire Karlsson.
“There’s a couple of things here,” began Friedman. “The one thing that I heard was there were some teams who were willing to try him as a rental, but that makes Ottawa’s package to receive back probably not as good.
“The other thing I don’t know at this point in time is is Bobby Ryan still a part of this. And if he is, then we’re in a situation where that still also makes it very difficult.
“The teams who I think are legitimately in this: I think Dallas is. I think San Jose has been in and out of it a few times. I don’t get the sense anything is imminent with Vegas at this point in time, but I think they’re still a contender because they’re the team that has probably the best ability to make it all work. And even though I’d heard yesterday that the biggest pursuers seem to be the Western Conference, until it’s over I think Tampa is a team that could still potentially be a part of this.
“So if I had to make a list of four teams, that’s probably my group - although I have been told at different times during this process that there have been teams involved that we wouldn’t have guessed.”
As the Karlsson-related portion of Thursday’s radio hit on 960 wrapped up, the Insider was asked if he saw any chance of a reconciliation between the defenseman and the Senators that would see him sign a long-term extension and stay in Ottawa.
“Not under this ownership,” surmised Friedman. “I have said a couple of times that I thought if the team was sold or he believed the team was going to be sold that might change things. I just don’t see it under this ownership. I just feel that he doesn’t think they’re going to have a chance to win.”