Karlsson, who has been working on strengthening his surgically repaired ankle this offseason, believes "he is going to be as good as ever," The Athletic reports. Karlsson has been the subject of various trade rumors this offseason, though he's been tight-lipped about the progress of any contract talks that his camp may have had thus far. The star defenseman -- who has notched 518 points (126 goals, 392 assists) over 627 career games with the Senators -- added that the extra time afforded to him by missing the playoffs helped him focus on rehabbing the ankle injury that required surgery 13 months ago. When asked how the ankle feels, Karlsson said, "110 (percent) probably. It's that good."
Karlsson may have turned down the Senators' July 1 contract-extension offer due to the team not presenting him with sufficient signing bonuses, according to The Athletic. The Senators are said to be in a poor financial state, even though GM Pierre Dorion reportedly offered the elite defenseman an eight-year deal that was "closer to $11 million than $10 million." As suggested in this latest report, players are heavily concentrated on earning big signing bonuses and front-loaded contracts since there may be a lockout in the 2019-20 campaign. Karlsson remains with Ottawa, despite how it had seemed like a sure bet that he'd wind up in either Tampa Bay or Dallas. Of course, those teams aren't necessarily out of the running. The reality is that no one truly knows at this point what sweater Karlsson will be donning to start the 2018-19 season.
Karlsson remains a Senator despite reports that he was on the verge of being acquired by the Lightning on Thursday, the Ottawa Citizen reports. An unsubstantiated report had surfaced linking Karlsson to the Lightning, pending a trade call to the NHL's front office, but nothing has officially surfaced in that regard. However, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun writes, "There's little question that Tampa appears to be Karlsson's destination of choice," pointing out that the star defenseman has a close relationship with fellow countryman and 2018 Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman, who plays for the Bolts. While this certainly was a tease for hockey fans abound, Karlsson very well could still be on the move ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, whether he winds up in Tampa or someplace else.
A deal to send Karlsson to the Lightning appears to be in place, pending a call to the NHL's office, TSN's Shawn Simpson reports. For now, Karlsson remains a Senator, but that could change as early as Friday morning. If Simpson's sources are accurate and this deal happens as reported, the Senators' price tag is likely to be high given that they'll be trading their captain within the Atlantic Division. For fantasy purposes, this would send Karlsson's already high value skyrocketing, as he'd move from an Ottawa team that will likely struggle mightily to produce goals and wins in 2018-19 to an explosive Lightning team that would instantly become the odds-on favorite to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.
There are 10 different organizations said to be in the market to potentially acquire Karlsson, who is seeking a long-term contract valued around $11 million annually, Sportsnet reports. While Karlsson still has one year left on his current contract with the Senators, trade discussions have been ramping up. According to Postmedia, the Sharks, Golden Knights, Capitals and Rangers -- as well as six other teams across both conferences -- make sense as potential destinations for the stud defenseman.
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