It's been roughly two years since the Ottawa Senators made the enormous decision to trade their superstar player, defenseman Erik Karlsson, to the San Jose Sharks.
At the time the Senators organization and their general manager Pierre Dorion came under fire for the return that they managed to extract from the Sharks in the deal, a return that was deemed to be insufficient for what was in Karlsson a perennial Norris Trophy contender. In fact I think it is safe to say that the majority of NHL pundits and analysts alike were overwhelming of the belief that the Sharks had won the trade, and perhaps if they had not collapsed so bad in this most recent regular season they would have.
Today however, now that we have a better idea of how this trade has played out, there are signs that would suggest this trade is now one that could very well favor the Senators in the long run. First let's take a look at how the trade went down on that fateful day:
The Senators sent defenseman Erik Karlsson as well as forward Francis Perron to the Sharks. In exchange the Sharks sent forward Chris Tierney, defenseman Dylan DeMelo, prospects Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers and perhaps most important of all a conditional first round pick in either 2019 or 2020, a second round choice in 2019, and a second round choice in 2021.
Now many of you might still favor the Sharks when looking at the original deal, especially considering that Karlsson is by far the best player in this trade. The Senators however have since utilized many of the assets acquired in the trade and things now have a different look than they did at the time of the trade, here's how things have changed since then:
The Senators used their second round selection, as well as a third they previously owned, to move up in the draft via a trade with the Hurricanes that allowed them to select goaltender Mads Sogaard.
Last season the Senators also traded Dylan DeMelo to the Winnipeg Jets and then used the third round pick they received in exchange to select goaltender Leevi Merainen at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
The biggest shift of course has come as a result of that 2020 first round pick from the Sharks, one that was much higher in the draft than anyone could have expected given the collapse from the Sharks this season. That choice, 3rd overall at the draft in 2020, has now transformed into forward Tim Stutzle.
So now let's look at an updated version of this trade:
Second round pick (2021)
All of a sudden when are looking at a very different picture in front of us and when you consider that Josh Norris is viewed as a highly touted prospect and Tim Stutzle is expected to be a future NHL star, there is still a ton of upside for the Senators in this deal. If some of the other selections that have come as a result of this trade work out for the organization, for example forward Rudolfs Balcers or goaltender Mads Sogaard, this trade could end up looking like a steal for the Senators in the long run.
Sure the Sharks got the best player in the deal, a Norris level defenseman no less, and sure they got him signed to a long term contract as well, but it didn't take the team to the next level which was the expectation when the deal was made. After a horrible season the Sharks will look to bounce back, but the damage in terms of this trade has already been done.
Now I'm not gonna rush to heap praise on Pierre Dorion, I don't believe for a second he predicted the Sharks would collapse and earn his organization an extra lottery pick, but he certainly should no longer be derided for making this trade deal.