Melnyk says Karlsson will have to be “reasonable” with demands

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk set the stage for a tough contract battle with Erik Karlsson by saying the 21-year-old defenceman will have to be “reasonable” in his contract demands.

Melnyk says Karlsson will have to be “reasonable” with demands

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk set the stage for a tough contract battle with Erik Karlsson by saying the 21-year-old defenceman will have to be “reasonable” in his contract demands.

In a year-end conference call with the Ottawa media on Monday, Melnyk said the Senators can’t go “toe-to-toe” in spending with the big-market teams, suggesting that players, and in particular Karlsson, will have to take a haircut to play in Ottawa.

“From our perspective everyone has to be reasonable,” he said.

“All we can offer is opportunity, and that is to be part of a great organization with a shot.

“If you want to be part of that, our doors are open.

“We can pay you, but it has to be within a reasonable budget.”

While that should be looked at as only the opening salvo in these negotiations, the beginning of the to and fro, it does seem to suggest that the Senators are going to play hardball with their talented player.

Given salaries paid to top young defencemen, Karlsson’s range should be between $6.5 and $7.5 million.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman, a good friend of Karlsson, is on the low end of the range at $4 million a year.

Nashville Predator defenceman Shea Weber, who will also be a restricted free agent this summer, is on the high end at $7.5 a year.

Los Angeles King Drew Doughty, who held out last fall, signed an eight-year contract for $56 million, while Buffalo Sabre Tyler Myers signed a six-year contract for $33 million.

Given the 78-point season Karlsson had, and his subsequent nomination for the Norris Trophy, he has to think he’s in the Doughty range.

Melnyk repeated what general manager Bryan Murray said on Saturday: That that he was not worried about negotiations and that they’d be able to strike a deal.

But he was hardly unequivocal when he said he was “hopeful” Karlsson would be part of the team’s future.

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