Potential deal for Erik Karlsson would reportedly be “complex” for Golden Knights

If the Golden Knights want to acquire Erik Karlsson, it sounds like they will also have to take on Bobby Ryan and his gigantic contract.

Although Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee called the Erik Karlsson trade rumors “wild speculation” on Thursday night, those rumors aren’t dying down at all.

The problem, however, is that any potential deal would be complex to complete due to multiple reasons. TSN’s panel of insiders went into detail about a potential Karlsson trade during Thursday’s Insider Trading segment and, man, did they have some interesting things to say.

TSN’s Darren Dreger opened the segment by saying there is “considerable interest in Karlsson,” including interest from the Golden Knights. The more compelling tidbit of info, though, is when Dreger said the Senators are perhaps feeling the pressure to deal Karlsson at the NHL Draft because if they wait until after July 1, which is when Ottawa can officially offer an extension to Karlsson, they run the risk of him turning down an offer and essentially eliminating any leverage the Senators have in trade negotiations.

It’s a tricky situation from Ottawa’s perspective, and it sounds like it all comes down to whether or not they believe Karlsson would sign an extension with them after July 1. Based on everything we’ve heard so far, I think it’s fair to say the answer to that question is no, which leads us back to the idea of trading Karlsson.

What exactly Ottawa would be looking for in any Karlsson deal is largely unknown. But based on previous reports we know they would like Vegas to do one of two things: 1) include Cody Glass in any trade, or 2) take Bobby Ryan’s contract off their hands.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Senators seem to still like the idea of the Golden Knights taking Ryan off their hands if they were to deal Karlsson. However, there is a cost to including Ryan that the Senators would have to consider, and that’s where things get tricky. Here’s what McKenzie had to say during Thursday’s Insider Trading:

The Vegas Golden Knights were interested before the deadline, couldn't get it done. Weren't offering enough. Want to get it done now — may still not be offering enough. But to your point, Dregs, if Karlsson is perceived as a diminishing asset then Ottawa’s gotta weigh what’s on the table.

The problem that I think you run into is that the Vegas Golden Knights, more than any other team, have the ability to take Bobby Ryan’s contract off the hands of the Senators and that would be something that owner Eugene Melnyk would look favourably upon.

But I think there’s a cost associated with that, and the cost is if Vegas takes the Bobby Ryan contract, they're not going to give as many live bodies or draft picks going back the other way to Ottawa.

They're attaching a huge value to taking on Ryan’s money. Ottawa is trying to attach a huge value to Karlsson in terms of what comes back in the door.

I don’t know how they bridge that gap, other than, to your point, the longer this Karlsson thing drags on, maybe the more of a diminishing asset he becomes.

From the Senators’ perspective, they’re in quite the bind. The longer they wait, the more leverage Karlsson and teams pursuing him have. But on top of that, if Ottawa wants to include Ryan’s contract, too, they will not only be limiting the number of teams they can negotiate a deal with, but they will also be minimizing any potential return because, like McKenzie said, there is a cost to taking on Ryan’s contract.

Despite the complex nature of this deal, if you’re Ottawa do you really wait this out and hope Karlsson re-signs? Or do you bite the bullet and ensure you get a good return for Karlsson that might not include coveted prospect Cody Glass, but would still likely include a number of picks and players, as well as cap relief in the form of Vegas taking on Ryan.

It’s a fascinating situation that seems to be developing more and more into Vegas’ favor, especially if Ryan is to be included in a potential trade. After seeing the way McPhee played poker with the NHL last year during the expansion draft, would you really bet against him in these Karlsson sweepstakes?