Flyers

Flyers

The Ottawa Senators are just a dumpster fire and will continue to be one until owner Eugene Melnyk sells the club.

Senators fans deserve better than the dysfunction taking place in Canada's capital city. If you need to catch up, start here.

All caught up? Good. Erik Karlsson's time as a Senator appears to be limited by hours and perhaps days. If you're a Sens fan, that's a painful sentence to read. I'm sorry.

There are two reports that matter. The first from NBC Sports' Kathryn Tappen.

And the second from the New York Post's Larry Brooks.

Now before we move forward, the Flyers have not been linked to Karlsson in the ridiculous amount of trade speculation that has spun around the internet since last season began.

But many did not foresee Flyers general manager Ron Hextall coming out swinging in free agency by signing James van Riemsdyk. Hextall announced that his process is ramping up.

 

As NBCSports.com's Joey Alfieri writes, "Philadelphia has plenty of quality prospects at their disposal and the roster is young enough that they can afford to move some of them away."

With that, let's take a closer look at why Karlsson to the Flyers isn't as crazy as it sounds but remains improbable.

Why it makes sense

For starters, players like Karlsson don't become available very often and this summer, two superstars have been or are available. The first star was John Tavares, who was an unrestricted free agent before he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tavares handpicked the six teams he was interested in: the Islanders, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Sharks, Bruins and Stars. The Flyers were not on the list, but it wasn't because they didn't want to be.

Hextall made that clear last Friday, saying "we would have liked to have been in there." It's Hextall's duty as general manager to explore all options. Of course, he called Tavares. And he'll likely ping Senators GM Pierre Dorion about Karlsson.

Even with signing JVR, the Flyers still have money to spend. Hextall said Sunday that he doesn't envision signing a center and will continue to monitor the market for a defenseman but doesn't want to go term on the players who are available.

Look at the free-agent crop and you can't blame Hextall for not wanting to overpay for mediocre defensemen who will only block Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin.

Karlsson is a totally different animal. He's an elite defenseman, a five-time NHL All-Star and a two-time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner. He's averaged 0.83 points per game throughout his career, ninth-most ever by defensemen. The next closest active player is P.K. Subban, who averages 0.65 points per game. Karlsson is pretty, pretty, pretty good at hockey.

Last season, Karlsson registered 53 assists and 62 points in 71 games for an 0.87 points-per-game clip on an atrocious Sens team. At 28 years old and even with some serious injuries in his career, he hasn't shown any signs of losing his offensive gifts.

For the Flyers, it's worth poking around. Karlsson carries a $6.5 million cap hit for 2018-19. For argument's sake, let's say the Flyers acquire Karlsson, they'd have about $8.2 million in cap space without taking into account players going the other way.

The point is, they have money to spend and fitting Karlsson in would not be a problem. As for Karlsson's extension, because any acquiring team would want to sign him first, that's a bridge to cross down the road.

Ivan Provorov has a major extension coming his way and Travis Konecny has a raise on the way too. Nolan Patrick's entry-level contract isn't that far away from expiring. But that's why the Flyers have people in charge of the cap.

 

They have money to spend and adding Karlsson into the mix, without subtracting too much from the current roster, would elevate the Flyers into a Stanley Cup contender now.

Why it probably won't happen

Trading for Karlsson would require a king's ransom and while Hextall did show he's willing and capable of striking big in free agency, trading away top prospects is a different story.

Hextall has built up one of the strongest farm systems in the league and has enough assets to start selling off. It's also why it would make sense for the Flyers to be in on Karlsson. They have the prospect pool to land Karlsson in a trade.

But Hextall builds through drafting and developing. Signing van Riemsdyk doesn't change Hextall's philosophy. Rather, it just affirms that he's willing to go big-game hunting when he deems it to make sense.

If — and this is a big if — the Flyers could negotiate an extension with Karlsson, then we have to consider the asking price. We don't know what Dorion is seeking for Karlsson, but you'd have to think it begins with at least one young, impact NHL player, a high-end prospect and significant draft picks. You'd think a competent organization would ask for, say, Konecny and either Sanheim or Shayne Gostisbehere plus a prospect and at least one first-round pick for Karlsson.

Ottawa isn't exactly competent, but the price would be a lot. Would Hextall be willing to give up Konecny, Sanheim or Gostisbehere plus a prospect and picks for Karlsson? That remains to be seen. I'd steer clear from that bet.

But the Flyers trading for Karlsson isn't that insane of a thought. Right now, though, it's just that.

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