April 16, 2012; Ottawa, ON, Canada; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) and New York Rangers forward Brad Richards (19) chase a puck during the second period in game three of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals at ScotiaBank Place. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-US PRESSWIRE

Off-Season Decisions Looming For Senators - #1 - Erik Karlsson

As there are still a number of teams battling for the ultimate hockey prize, the Ottawa Senators have begun preparations for the upcoming season and beyond.  There are a number of immediate decisions that must be made that will set the direction for the club.

 

Decision #1. THE. ERIK KARLSSON CONTRACT

 

The Sens top blueliner will become a restricted free agent on July 1st, and the negotiations will soon begin ford his second contract.  Bryan Murray must decide whether to go short term with a mid-level type contract or go for the home run and attempt to get his name on a long term deal and buy some of his UFA seasons.  This means that the young Swede would be in the folder for years to come, but at a higher cap hit.

As a comparison, Mike Green signed a 4 year, $21M deal PRIOR TO his back to back 70+ point seasons beginning in 2008. This Would be an example of the mid-level contract.  And example of the long term deal would be the 8 year, $56M deal inked by LA’s Drew Doughty prior to this season.

If it were me, I would be inclined to go the long term direction with Karlsson. He will only get more rounded in his game and you can build the blueliner line around him.  If you don’t keep him happy, he could bail when he becomes anUFA, and the Senators. Would find themselves in the situation that Nashville is currently in with their top 2 blueliners.

What do you think?

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