Friedman wonders about Karlsson trades that didn’t happen

Erik Karlsson was finally traded Thursday, with Pierre Dorion shipping the franchise defenseman to the San Jose Sharks for a package of players and draft picks.

Given the largely negative perception of the return the Ottawa Senators received for one of the few players legitimately qualified to wear the ‘elite’ label, Ottawa Senators fans are left pining for trades that might have been.

“I don’t think there was ever a Tampa deal close,” indicated Elliotte Friedman during a Friday morning radio hit on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590 as part of a larger discussion on the Senators and the Karlsson deal. “But I do think, and I was told by multiple people, that aside from the deal that happened yesterday the closest they ever came was Vegas at the deadline.

“And the problem with that deal, I was told, is that it was a good business deal for the Senators, but it was not a good hockey deal. Which means that Bobby Ryan was included and the return wasn’t good, but they would have gotten rid of Ryan’s contract.

“If eight months ago the owner had decided it wasn’t important to include Bobby Ryan, but he just kind of made the deal they did yesterday - just Karlsson, with Vegas - I bet you that the return would have been better and they would have been in a much better situation.

“And I think that’s probably the best question. If eight months ago they had said, ‘You know what, we’ll just worry about trading Karlsson’ and not worried about Ryan, they probably would have had a better deal.”

Friedman also revisited a theory he’s had concerning the Toronto Maple Leafs and Karlsson.

“Someday, I would like to take Kyle Dubas and slip some like truth serum into whatever he’s drinking and say, ‘Did you call Ottawa and offer to take Karlsson for one year,’” mused the Insider.

“This is a really unique season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Obviously you’ve got Tavares, you’re going to try to solve the Nylander problem, and you’ve got Matthews and Marner in the last year of their ELCs - it’s a very unique opportunity.

“And they could, if they wanted to, go out and get someone like a Karlsson, like a Panarin. They’ve got the assets to say, ‘We’re going to try this for one year and we’ll go for it and we’ll worry about everything else in 12 months.’ Dubas strikes me as the kind of different thinker who would try something like that.

“But one thing is, you look at that deal yesterday and you look at those two stipulations on the end of the deal. If he goes to the Eastern Conference this season, we get an extra first-round draft pick. That says to me they didn’t want Karlsson in the East, and there was going to be a premium to do it.

“And I could absolutely see Ottawa saying, ‘We’re not sending Karlsson to Tampa, and we’re not sending him to Toronto.’”

Karlsson is in the final season of his contract, and the Sharks have indicated their intention to try to sign their new acquisition to a long-term extension.

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