How much is Karlsson worth?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When he re-signs with the Ottawa Senators, and for how long, and for how much, hadn’t been much on Erik Karlsson’s mind these days.
But then his good buddy Victor Hedman went ahead and signed a five-year extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning that averages $4 million a year, so naturally everyone began to think (again) about what Karlsson might be worth.
And the answer? Quite a lot, actually, because the price tag just went up with Hedman’s deal. It’s only going to dig deeper in Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk’s wallet.
Karlsson is a very different player than Hedman.
Hedman, who turns 21 on Dec. 18, is being paid because he’s 6-6 and plays 23-plus minutes a game as a defensive presence.
Karlsson, 21, is the most dynamic young offensive defenceman in the NHL. He leads all defencemen in points and was tied on Friday for the league lead in assists.
From a starting point, he’s worth at least as much as Hedman, whose contract will pay him $1.5 million next season; $3 million in 2013-14; $4 million in 2014-15; $6 million in 2015-16; and $4 million in 2016-17. He also got a $1.5 million signing bonus.
Re-signing Karlsson will be the biggest item on general manager Bryan Murray’s to-do list and it will surely preoccupy fans until it’s done.
So far, Karlsson’s not sweating it.
“They might have some bigger issues to take care of, or whatever,” he said on Friday afternoon.
“But whenever they’re ready to talk, if it’s during the season or after, it doesn’t really concern me.
“Well, it does concern me, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m just trying to focus on winning hockey games.”
Working on the theory that Karlsson’s value is only going to increase as he gets older and approaches his prime, the smart move is to do what Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman did with Hedman and Steven Stamkos: sign them to long-term deals.
But Murray is in a tricky spot because after this season, his third, Karlsson will only have to play four more years to become an unrestricted free agent.
So if Murray wants to “buy” a year or two of that unrestricted freedom, the price will go up.
Karlsson, who has been attracting increasing attention from the opposition as one of Ottawa’s cornerstones, couldn’t predict what his future might hold.
“Obviously I’m really happy for (Hedman) for signing the contract he did,” he said.
“(He) deserves it.
“We’ll see what happens to me. It could a totally different situation or it could be the same.
“It’s pretty hard to say right now.”
If it’s any consolation, Ottawa is a fine place to play, and he doesn’t want to go anywhere else.
“I like it here,” he said.
“My fiance loves it here. And it’s a great organization and a great team.
“The things we have going on here are really good.”

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