This year's NHL trade deadline was a pretty exciting one. Plenty of recognizable names got moved in the days and hours leading up to the deadline as teams made an effort to load up for the back half of the season.

But the most talked-about name heading into this year's frenzy was defenseman Erik Karlsson, who ultimately didn't get traded. The Ottawa Senators have had a tumultuous year both on and off the ice and -- with a year and a half remaining on his current contract -- they aren't sure if they can re-sign Karlsson. That means they could be convinced to unload him if they get a package of assets they like.

Not surprisingly, there was reportedly plenty of interest in Karlsson's elite services. The most serious potential suitor seems to have been the Vegas Golden Knights, who would've made a huge splash if they were able to acquire the offensively-gifted blue liner in their franchise's first year of existence. 

In the aftermath of Monday's deadline, there were reports suggesting that the Knights came very close to landing Karlsson and, at one point, believed that they had. Obviously, the two sides weren't able to get a deal done, and Karlsson remains in Ottawa for the rest of the season.

On Wednesday, Sportnet's Elliotte Friedman used his weekly "31 Thoughts" column to provide some insight into why a blockbuster Karlsson deal never came to fruition.

On Karlsson, my sense is the Vegas trade fell apart because of how the purchase price would be adjusted by Bobby Ryan's inclusion. I'm not 100 per cent sure if it was Ottawa's ask or Vegas's offer, but one of the rumblings is that the teams were talking two first-rounders, a high-level prospect and a conditional pick for Karlsson — the condition being whether or not the Golden Knights re-signed him. Whatever the case, it didn't happen and I can't imagine Vegas would have been willing to do all that if they were taking Ryan's contract, too.


So who else was in? I believe San Jose also told the Senators it could do both Karlsson and Ryan. The Sharks have a boatload of cap room. I'm not aware of any others who offered to do both. Tampa Bay obviously made a pitch, but what the Lightning did with the Rangers clearly didn't appeal to Ottawa

All signs point to the Senators insisting that any team inquiring about Karlsson must also be willing to take on the hefty contract of forward Bobby Ryan, which isn't a small ask -- Ryan will cost $7.25 million on the cap through 2022. However, Vegas had plenty of financial flexibility heading into this year's deadline, which is why they were able to absorb some of Derrick Brassard's salary in his trade to the Penguins, as well as take on the contract of Tomas Tatar from Detroit.

However, the Senators clearly weren't sold on what the Golden Knights had on the table, and now the uncertainty around Karlsson will carry on at least until this summer, when Ottawa will have a chance to revisit deals prior to the NHL Draft. If they wait any longer than that, they'll start losing leverage and pieces off a potential return. 

For now, Karlsson claims to be happy to remain the captain in Ottawa, saying he never wanted to be traded in the first place. We'll see how long that lasts. The Senators organization seems to be in disarray from top to bottom at the moment, and free agency (or a trade to a contender) could look to be the light at the end of the tunnel for Karlsson.