On Wednesday night, Erik Karlsson will commemorate his breakout campaign by appearing at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas as one of the three Norris Trophy nominees.
But tonight? Tonight he’s going to celebrate.
That’s because the 22-year-old defenseman has signed a massive seven-year, $45.5 million deal with the Ottawa Senators. The contract will keep Karlsson in the Canadian capital until 2019, matching the longest contract in franchise history (Jason Spezza signed a seven-year deal back in 2007.)
The average annual value of $6.5 million is a huge raise for Karlsson, who was earning $1.3 million annually on his last contract (which, to be fair, was his entry-level deal.)
While steep, it’s a price the Senators had to pay to retain the services of last year’s most outstanding offensive defenseman. Karlsson scored 78 points in 81 games, finishing 25 clear of the next leading defenseman scorers (Brian Campbell and Dustin Byfuglien each had 53.)
His 59 assists tied him for third with Evgeni Malkin overall — only Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux had more.
In terms of cap hit, Karlsson’s $6.5 million puts him in rarefied air among blueliners. Only Campbell ($7.14 million), Drew Doughty ($7.0), Zdeno Chara ($6.9) Jay Bouwmeester ($6.7) and Dan Boyle ($6.6) are more expensive. Dion Phaneuf’s annual cap hit is also $6.5 million.
Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.
It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.
Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).
There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.
Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.
The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.
The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)
For more on the three finalists, click here.
It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.
Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.
Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.
People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.
Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.
The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.
Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.
Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?
Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.
Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.