Karls­son traded to Sharks

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - SPORTS -

OT­TAWA — The Erik Karls­son era is over in Ot­tawa.

The Se­na­tors traded the star de­fence­man to the San Jose Sharks on Thurs­day, just one day be­fore Ot­tawa hits the ice for train­ing camp.

The Se­na­tors dealt Karls­son and prospect for­ward Fran­cis Per­ron to the Sharks. Ot­tawa gets for­wards Chris Tier­ney and Ru­dolfs Bal­cers, de­fence­man Dy­lan DeMelo, prospect for­ward Josh Nor­ris and two con­di­tional draft picks. If San Jose re-signs Karls­son, Ot­tawa re­ceives a con­di­tional 2021 sec­ond-round se­lec­tion — or a firstround pick (not lot­tery pro­tected) if the Sharks reach the Stan­ley Cup fi­nal in 2019.

“I don’t think that I’ve ever in my wildest imag­i­na­tion thought that I would ever leave this place,” said Karls­son in an emo­tional news con­fer­ence. “But, un­for­tu­nately, we’re here un­der these cir­cum­stances and, again, that’s not some­thing I’m go­ing to go into de­tail about.

“I was pre­pared to come here and work hard for this team. I still have a year left on my deal but un­for­tu­nately I couldn’t fol­low that through.”

Ot­tawa re­ceives San Jose’s firstround choice in ei­ther 2019 or 2020 (not lot­tery pro­tected). If the Sharks miss the play­offs in 201819, it will be a 2019 se­lec­tion, oth­er­wise it will be in 2020. Ot­tawa gets a sec­ond-round choice in the 2019 draft from San Jose (which will be the higher of the two picks the Sharks cur­rently own — the Florida Pan­thers’ and their own).

“Erik is an ex­cep­tional hockey player whose skills de­lighted our fans for the past nine years,” Se­na­tors gen­eral man­ager Pierre Do­rion said in a state­ment. “We thank him for his ded­i­ca­tion to hockey, and we wish him all the best.

“This is the right mo­ment for us to re­build our team, and shape our fu­ture with a faster, younger and more com­pet­i­tive team on the ice. We are go­ing to build a cul­ture of con­sis­tency which will al­low this team to sus­tain bet­ter per­for­mance over the long term.”

The de­par­ture of the 28-year-old face of the fran­chise is the lat­est de­vel­op­ment in what has been a tur­bu­lent stretch for the Se­na­tors.

Things started to go side­ways last fall in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal af­ter the club re­turned from a two-game sweep of the Colorado Avalanche in Swe­den, go­ing an ugly 1-9-3 over its next 13 to be­gin a tum­ble down the stand­ings

Then on the eve of fran­chise’s show­case out­door game in midDe­cem­ber, Se­na­tors owner Eu­gene Mel­nyk rained on his own pa­rade by mus­ing to re­porters at a me­dia avail­abil­ity on Par­lia­ment Hill that he might move the team if ticket sales didn’t im­prove.

That launched the #Mel­nykOut hash­tag on Twit­ter the same month, and while Mel­nyk even­tu­ally back­tracked on the re­lo­ca­tion talk, some fans de­cided to vent their frus­tra­tion by rais­ing money to fund a se­ries of bill­boards fea­tur­ing the slo­gan.

Through it all, Karls­son’s fu­ture re­mained a key talk­ing point ahead of Fe­bru­ary’s trade dead­line.

He ended up stay­ing put, but tragedy struck in March when Karls­son and his wife Melinda an­nounced their first child, a son they named Axel, was still­born.

“I don’t think that I could have ever pre­pared for this. That’s why I don’t have any­thing writ­ten, I haven’t re­ally wrapped my mind around what is re­ally go­ing on,” said Karls­son, who made a state­ment with­out any pre­pared notes be­fore tak­ing ques­tions from re­porters. “I think it’s been hap­pen­ing re­ally fast, even though there’s been noise for a year now.”

More con­tro­versy bub­bled to the sur­face in May when for­mer cap­tain and fran­chise icon Daniel Al­freds­son, who left his role with Ot­tawa as a se­nior ad­viser the pre­vi­ous sum­mer, was quoted say­ing he hopes the team gets a new owner.

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. He was sus­pended by the team two weeks af­ter be­ing charged.

And if that wasn’t enough, news broke in June that Karls­son’s wife had filed a peace bond against Monika Caryk, the fi­ancee of for­mer team mate Mike Hoffman, for al­leged cy­ber­bul­ly­ing.

Hoffman, who was traded a week later, and Caryk have de­nied the al­le­ga­tions. A civil suit is on­go­ing.

Lee, who was also GM of the Se­na­tors’ AHL af­fil­i­ate, re­signed from both jobs with the or­ga­ni­za­tion last month.

Karls­son, a two-time Nor­ris Tro­phy win­ner (2012, 2015), spent the last nine sea­sons in Ot­tawa. The six-foot, 191-pound Swede was drafted by the Se­na­tors with the 15th over­all pick in the 2008 NHL En­try Draft. He made his de­but in Ot­tawa the fol­low­ing year.

His break­out cam­paign came in 2011-12 when he had 78 points (19 goals, 59 as­sists), while av­er­ag­ing 25:19 of ice time.

“It’s ex­tremely rare that play­ers of this cal­i­bre be­come avail­able,” Sharks gen­eral man­ager Doug Wil­son said in a state­ment. “The word elite is of­ten thrown around ca­su­ally but Erik’s skill-set and abil­i­ties fit that de­scrip­tion like few other play­ers in to­day’s game. With Erik, Brent Burns and Mar­cE­douard Vla­sic, we feel we have three of the NHL’s top de­fence­men and stand as a bet­ter team to­day than we were yes­ter­day. We are thrilled to wel­come Erik and his wife, Melinda, to San Jose.”

“Ul­ti­mately, to ac­quire a player like this, you have to give to get and we are los­ing some qual­ity play­ers but also some very good peo­ple. All of the play­ers leav­ing our or­ga­ni­za­tion have a very bright fu­ture in this league and we wish them all the best.”

Spec­u­la­tion about Karls­son’s fu­ture had been a hot topic in what has been a head­line-loaded off-sea­son for the Se­na­tors. The team said it of­fered Karls­son, who can be­come an un­re­stricted free agent next sum­mer, a con­tract ex­ten­sion on July 1.

Ot­tawa fell to the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins in dou­ble over­time in Game 7 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal in 2017, but strug­gled might­ily last sea­son, fin­ish­ing 30th in the 31-team NHL with just 67 points.

Karls­son put the Se­na­tors on his shoul­ders in the 2017 play­offs, lead­ing them in scor­ing with 18 points — in­clud­ing two gamewin­ning goals — in 19 con­tests, av­er­ag­ing more 28 min­utes of ice time de­spite hav­ing torn ten­dons in his left foot, which re­quired off-sea­son surgery.

Karls­son had 62 points (nine goals, 53 as­sists) in Ot­tawa’s dis­as­trous 2017-18 cam­paign.

In 627 ca­reer games, the speedy na­tive of Lands­bro, Swe­den, has 126 goals and 392 as­sists, while av­er­ag­ing just un­der 26 min­utes a night. He’s added 37 points (six goals, 31 as­sists) in 48 play­off out­ings. The Cana­dian Press

SEAN KIL­PATRICK/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Erik Karls­son talks to the me­dia in Ot­tawa on Thurs­day. The Ot­tawa Se­na­tors fi­nally ended months of spec­u­la­tion by trad­ing Karls­son to the San Jose Sharks for play­ers and draft picks.

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