Last season Erik Karlsson won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman. He had an incredible year with 78 points, 25 points better than the next highest scoring defenceman in the NHL. Clearly one of the best, and arguably the best offensive defenceman in the NHL today. Karlsson was huge a reason for the Senators’ renaissance last season, helping lead the team to the playoffs, and nearly a first round upset of the New York Rangers.
This year Karlsson was doing much of the same, with 6 goals in 14 games for the Senators. However, tonight disaster has struck. Following an awkward collision with Matt Cooke, Karlsson cut his leg and was forced out of the game. It has been revealed that Karlsson suffered a lacerated achilles tendon and will require surgery. He is lost for the rest of the season, and depending on how bad the injury is, may or may not be ready for the start of training camp next season.
For the Sens this is devastating news and comes on the heels of the injury to Jason Spezza, a herniated disc, which will keep the team’s number 1 centre, and best forward out of the lineup for most of, if not all of the rest of this NHL season. So far the Sens have been able to deal with the Spezza injury as others like Kyle Turris have stepped up on offence, while Craig Anderson has been the NHL’s best goaltender in the first quarter of the season.
That said, it is difficult to imagine the Senators remaining a competitive club without Karlsson too. He is that good, and means that much to the team. Of course, Bryan Murray will go shopping to add some depth to this squad, however there quite simply are no defencemen on the trade market who can provide the kind of impact that Karlsson does for Ottawa.
What was once a promising season for the Sens may have gone up in smoke tonight, and it may be time for the Senators to consider using this as an opportunity to move veterans and a soon to be UFA like Sergei Gonchar in order to acquire more pieces for next year. It may even be time for the Sens to consider doing the unthinkable and trading long time captain Daniel Alfredsson to help accelerate the re-load for next year when Spezza and Karlsson make their returns.
Both players are UFAs at the end of this season and it may be a smart move to trade them now. Gonchar is the type of experienced powerplay quarterback that is almost always sought after come the NHL’s trade deadline, and Alfredsson has shown that he can still play the game at a high level and bring offensive punch. He could be an excellent addition to a contender looking for some secondary scoring and leadership. With the way Bryan Murray has drafted in recent years, I’m sure the Senators would love to have a few extra picks in this June’s draft.