Ottawa Senators superstar Erik Karlsson set off a firestorm of speculation last week after going out on record to say that he would not accept a “hometown discount” when it comes to signing a new contract this upcoming offseason. Everyone knows that the Senators are a small market, low-budget team, so talks of a $12 or $13 million annual salary for Karlsson understandably made fans and analysts of the team a little nervous.
Despite also being asked to submit his 10-team no-trade list to the Sens, along with every other teammate who has such a contract, Karlsson contends that he’s not going anywhere. In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Sportsnet’s Arash Madani, Karlsson stated:
It’s all about winning. I want to be on a – I’ve been here for nine seasons. I’ve invested my entire career into this organization. They’ve given me everything that I feel like I need to succeed. I think we’re moving in the right direction. This is the place I want to win with. I want to win in Ottawa. That’s where I’ll always be. It’s going to be my home, no matter where I end up playing when I get older, if that ever happens. So that’s the thing: I want to be where home is. I’m comfortable at home, I like it at home and Ottawa is home.
Translation: I’m not going anywhere. Of course, this could all just be part of the strategy in place to drive up his price tag, both on the free-agent market and on the trade market. Regardless, it’s clear that Karlsson has heard the rumors and would like to put a stop to them as quickly as possible. With his team’s fortunes quickly headed in the wrong direction, the team captain is smart to turn the focus away from himself and back on the ice where it’s necessary.