By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The basement dwellers of the Atlantic Division continue their descent into professional hockey’s abyss Thursday, as the Ottawa Senators traded captain Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks for six assets they hope spark an obvious rebuild in Ottawa.
In exchange for Karlsson, the Senators received forward Chris Tierney, defenseman Dylan DeMelo, prospects Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers, a first-round pick in 2020, a second-round selection in 2019, and two conditional picks.
The 24-year-old Tierney is the biggest name of the group, and comes to the Senators after posting career-highs in goals (17), assists (23), and points (40) for the Sharks last season. The 6-foot-1 DeMelo is next in line, with 20 assists in 63 games last year while averaging 14:12 per game, and has three goals and 32 points in 133 career games with the Sharks. Norris was a 2017 first-round pick by the Sharks, and posted eight goals and 23 points in 37 games with his freshman season with Michigan last year. And despite sounding like a straight-up imaginary player or somebody that the AI creates when you get too deep into a franchise mode in NHL 19, Balcers is indeed real, and had 23 goals and 48 points in 67 AHL contests a season ago.
The conditional picks, meanwhile, are contingent on the Sharks re-signing Karlsson, making it to the Stanley Cup Final next summer, or Karlsson returning to the Eastern Conference as an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Conditions on the two picks pic.twitter.com/1GqoejxyuX— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 13, 2018
This return absolutely stinks. The Senators, as poorly run a franchise as there is in the modern NHL, just traded a generational defenseman for one of the most forgettable returns humanly imaginable. Forget the fact that he was entering the final year of his contract, because all the teams bidding for Karlsson did considering his unique game. And given what Ottawa’s original asks for Karlsson were, and what some of the rumored-to-be interested teams offered, it’s a massive disappointment for the Sens.
With this trade, the Sens have only guaranteed themselves of at least one first-round draft pick. And they also failed to ditch the disastrous Bobby Ryan contract, which was a massive road block in trade talks with teams like the Vegas Golden Knights. Oh, and here’s where you can mention that the Senators do not possess their 2019 first-round pick, either. That was lost as a result of the Matt Duchene trade the Sens made last year, nor did they get a ’19 first round pick from the Sharks (they sent that to Buffalo for Evander Kane last year), meaning this year-long failure is going to absolutely be for nothing that benefits Ottawa.
The Senators present a legitimate case for the NHL to enforce relegation.
This is also great news for the Boston Bruins, though, beyond the obvious of essentially picking up a projected 2018-19 season sweep against an Ottawa team they outscored 18-to-5 in a four-game season series sweep a year ago.
That’s because Karlsson did not land with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The rumor of the summer — and at one point looking like a lock to actually happen — Karlsson is instead moving out West, where he will remain far away from the Bruins team he singlehandedly dominated in the first round in 2017. Given the massive upgrade made by the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer in John Tavares, the Bolts’ failure to land Karlsson keeps the 2018-19 regular season power struggle in the Atlantic Division between the Bruins, Leafs, and Lightning relatively balanced.
Not that the Bruins are going to be considered favorites, but there’s hope that another year of progression and development from some of their younger players that clearly weren’t ready for the Bolts in round two last year will benefit the Bruins should they draw into a rematch with Tampa next spring. Had Karlsson moved to a Lightning defense corps already boasting Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh, though, that hope would’ve been smashed to bits in five games just like it was in May.
Oh, and the Bruins absolutely do not have to worry about Karlsson torching them in April again if the Senators somehow repeated their straight-up bizarre trend of having one terrible year (last year) followed by a playoff-caliber year.
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.