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I...I don't know where to begin. I really don't. I could write 10,000 words at this point because there is so much to say. This organization has gone from poorly run but still passable to the worst run franchise in professional sports in the span of a year, and it all comes back to one person. There are two ways to analyze this: the financial aspect and the on-ice aspect. Let's start with the on-ice aspect, which is easier to dissect.
We knew that Karlsson was most likely going to get traded at some point and I was putting low expectations on the deal, but the Senators still managed to severely disappoint the fanbase with what they got in return. The full package is Chris Tierney, Dylan Demelo, Josh Norris, Rudolfs Balcers, a 1st, a 2nd, and 2 conditional picks, with the conditions listed here:
So lets look at who they got. Tierney had 40 points last year, but that is probably a high-point for him, and he is nothing more than a bottom-six centre. I like Demelo and even wanted him signed as a good third pairing defenseman, but he's a 4th/5th defenseman at best. Norris was a first round pick in 2017 at 19th overall, but he had an underwhelming freshman season at the University of Michigan with 23 points in 37 games. Balcers is intriguing because although he is a 2015 5th rounder, his first season in the AHL was quite successful with 48 points in 67 games.
They also have the two (probably three) draft picks in addition, but we won't be seeing those assets for quite a while. Amongst the four players they received, it is quite a terrible group to sell the fanbase on. Pierre Dorion opted for quantity rather than quality, because Balcers is the player I'm most excited about and even he was only the 4th ranked prospect in a 17th ranked system according to The Athletic. That's not something to get very excited about.
It's honestly baffling that after all of this talk about what the return could be, Ottawa was unable to land any prospect or NHLer of legitimate significance. They were unable to get Cody Glass, Shea Thedore, Colin Miller, Erik Brannstrom, Mikhail Sergachev, Miro Heiskanen, Quinn Hughes, Olli Juolevi, Tomas Hertl, or even somebody like Kevin Labanc or Timo Meier. None of the names that were talked about for months came back to the Senators, and that is a massive indictment of the front office.
When looking at a trade of such significance, as a fan you want to look at the return and say "okay, well at least we got player x who we can build around." None of these players are building blocks, because all of them have pretty limited ceilings. Could they all be useful players? Sure, but if you're trading one of the best defensemen of all time, you need to see a high-end prospect coming back the other way. Hell, Montreal was able to get Nick Suzuki a few days ago who could have an impact as soon as this season.
Karlsson and Dorion were talking to the media after the trade, and there were some pretty interesting (and head scratching) quotes, such as this one:
It is fascinating how far the team has fallen since last year, and I think the only reason why Dorion is saying this is because Melnyk wants him to rebuild the team. There was a reasonable argument to be made that before getting rid of some good players, Ottawa could have re-grouped, added some new faces, and gone for it in 2018-19, but the front office is too incompetent to make the necessary steps to do that. Another notable quote was this:
This infuriates me because if they knew that he wasn't going to be re-signed, then why didn't Dorion just trade him in February? I have a hard time believing that the offers would have been worse
considering teams would have been getting Karlsson for an extra playoff run. Also, we know that this is simply about money because in what world is the best defenseman on the planet not part of your future plans? Even if you expect the Senators to be going through a rebuild for the next 3-5 years, Karlsson will still be good by the time the next wave of prospects are ready to be apart of a competitive team.
Karlsson's part of the presser was also extremely depressing, because you can tell how badly he wanted to stay in the city of Ottawa:
We know then that under different ownership, Karlsson would be willing to stay. That seems obvious. So the reason why he is being moved is 100% due to Melnyk.
The "plan" from Melnyk seems pretty clear: slash the budget as much as possible for a few years before moving the team to LeBreton, and then selling them for as high as he can. And because of that, he should have no support from any Senators fans whatsoever. He's cheap, disingenuous, and rude to his own fanbase, and they will not be winning a Stanley Cup as long as he is here. The Ottawa Senators organization has no interest in winning anymore, they simply want to make a profit.
It's also just incredible that fans will have to endure another horrendous season while not having their own first round pick as compensation at the end of the year. There's the potential for them to lose out on an elite level player just because Dorion thought they team was better than they actually were.
At the end of the day, it is fair to feel extremely sad, angry, and heart-broken for what has transpired, but I think it's also important to talk about how amazing Karlsson was as a Senator and how much he meant to the city. He will never be forgotten, and these two videos sum up his time in Ottawa:
At some point in the next week I'll do an article talking more about Karlsson's contributions to the team, because he deserves all the praise in the world. It's just awful that we'll never get to see him lift the cup with the C on the Senators jersey.
This day will go down in infamy, and I don't blame you at all if this is the last straw for you as a Senators fan. It will take years for the organization to regroup, and we will quickly see how difficult it is to replace someone of Karlsson's stature.
Oh, and one more thing: #MelnykOut.
You must have seen it by now, but Erik Karlsson is officially a San Jose Shark:
Boy oh boy. Things are not looking good. More details and analysis to follow tonight...