A deal where you're sending the best player to another team is likely never going to be a trade your team wins. This was certainly the case when it came to the Ottawa Senators and their quest to move superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson. One of the top-five blueliners in the last decade, no return was going to be enough when you consider how beloved Karlsson was and just how much he meant to that organization's success.
With that in mind, it's hard to excuse the return Ottawa received in exchange for a player that has so much to offer any team.
In an effort to dissect the deal finally ended the drama over the most talked about player in the NHL this summer, we're trying to determine how bad the Karlsson deal really was.
Part of the problem with trading a star is that the longer it takes to move him, the more the team moving him should likely receive. This is especially true when the delay to a deal was the public perception Ottawa was waiting for the right offer from another team. There was no shortage of interested parties, yet despite that, Karlsson was moved one day before Senators camp opened and for less than anyone might have envisioned.
When Senators' GM Pierre Dorion had to address the timing of the move and say the trade had nothing to do with an arbitrary deadline of moving the player before he came to camp, that was the first sign all the information wasn't being made available.
Ottawa got a good haul of draft picks if the conditions added work in their favor, but that the best the Senators could get was a 40-point forward who isn't likely to produce 40 points again isn't wonderful.
The Actual Return
If we're being fair, this deal could have been worse. Still, Chris Tierney isn't on even the same planet when it comes to name recognition and he nor any player included in the return will inspire confidence. They likely won't improve the Senators this season, if at all.
The one thing Ottawa badly needed was to move either Bobby Ryan's bloated salary in a deal or get a premium prospect with star capacity in return. The team did neither. Worse yet, because Colorado owns Ottawa's actual first-round pick in next year's draft, the Sens have to pray Colorado does well and doesn't get the chance to draft a franchise prospect like they wanted to acquire.
In fact, for Ottawa to even receive a first-rounder in next year's draft, San Jose needs to miss the playoffs. By giving the Sharks the best defense in the NHL, Ottawa all but made sure the Sharks were in. Should they get in, Ottawa then has to hope San Jose re-signs Karlsson and wins the Stanley Cup to get the best possible draft position.
Trading Karlsson and getting no high-end prospect, no name of the future and no player who makes the team visibly better this season almost guarantees the departure of players like Matt Duchene and Mark Stone. If true, the Senators will have scraped clean their talent pool to the point that their rebuild will categorize them as on the same level as a poorly constructed expansion team.
At the very least, Ottawa could have tried to find a way to keep the players they have now believing there is hope for the future. Expect this season to include an exodus of talent and the team to have next to nothing left to show for a playoff run of a couple years ago that made fans believe they were a contending team in the East.
One could make an argument that this trade was the best Ottawa was going to do. True or not, it doesn't change the reality that when you consider how long it took to make a deal, what the return was and where it leaves the Senators, this move was beyond bad.