|Sens defenceman Erik Karlsson is expected to seek a similar deal to the one that Kings defenceman Drew Doughty signed last year. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency/Files)
OTTAWA - The Senators are ready to get down to business with standout defenceman Erik Karlsson.
Senators GM Bryan Murray, speaking in a wide-ranging interview, told the Sun he expects to hold formal talks with Karlsson’s agent Craig Oster and put an offer on the table next week.
Taking a break from scouting meetings that wrapped up Tuesday at Scotiabank Place, Murray confirmed there have been informal talks between the two sides. But now it’s time for discussions with Karlsson, who would become a restricted free agent July 1, to get serious.
“We had a meeting with our staff (Monday) and part of our discussion was how we approach (the talks),” said Murray. “We’ve had informal conversations, but that’s all. Now, we’ve got to get going on term and what we think is fair from our point. We’ll have to find out what they think and where we can go dollar-wise.
“We’ll get started within the next week, if not earlier. We’ll get an idea what their thoughts are. We’ll do the same and then get some work done here.”
A finalist for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top blueliner, Karlsson had 78 points this past season. He will be looking for a raise from the $1.3 million he made in 2011-12.
Many believe Karlsson’s camp will demand a similar deal to the eight-year, $56 million contract Drew Doughty signed with the Los Angeles Kings in September.
“We haven’t gone there (as far as money is concerned),” said Murray. “I have an idea, looking at comparables and somewhat comparables. He’s a difficult player that way.
“We have an idea what we think is the ballpark numbers, but we haven’t talked about it so we’re just shooting in the dark. We’ve had conversations with Newport Sports over the years and we’ll both approach it in a professional manner with an understanding that we both have a job to do. We’ll try to do it the best we can for our side.”
Murray said there is no rush.
“Everybody knows, from Erik to their agents, that we want to get something done,” said Murray.
The Senators will free up some money for Karlsson by letting blue-liner Filip Kuba test the UFA market. He made $3.7 million last season and Murray has no interest bringing him back at that price.
“We told his agent (Rich Evans) we liked his year, we thought he was a good influence on Karlsson but we couldn’t go in the same dollar area as he was before,” said Murray. “We said we would talk when the year was over and we have not talked to this point.
“My assumption from that is they will try to investigate what the market is for him. If he gets what he wants, he’ll probably move on and we’ll probably do the same.”
Murray said the Senators will likely deal for a veteran defenceman or sign one as a UFA to replace Kuba. The club is also counting on either Mark Borowiecki or Patrick Wiercioch battling for a spot.
“We’re going to have to get at least one veteran defenceman,” said Murray. “Besides that, we have to count on one of our younger guys having a chance to make the team.”
Murray said he isn’t ready to announce whether forwards Jesse Winchester and Zenon Konopka and defenceman Matt Carkner will be back as UFAs. It’s certain not all will return.
“We haven’t told them yet, but we can’t bring everybody back,” said Murray. “It’s as simple as that. We have to make the call there.”
However, one of the first calls will be to Karlsson’s agent.