OTTAWA - Erik Karlsson is here ... he’s just not sure he’s here to stay.
The Senators defenceman is back in Ottawa after spending the summer in Sweden and ready to honour the seven-year, $45.5-million contract he signed in June, but he’s not counting on getting his first paycheque on time.
While Karlsson, 22, wants to pick up where he left off after leading all defencemen in scoring with 78 points (19 goals, 59 assists) last season and winning the Norris Trophy, he doesn’t know if he’ll get a chance with the CBA set to expire Sept. 15.
“(The lockout) is not something anyone wants,” said Karlsson after skating with a few of his Ottawa teammates Tuesday during an informal outing at the Bell Sensplex.
“All we can do is prepare ourselves for everything to start when it’s supposed to and when we hit that deadline, we’ll take it from there. Right now, it’s just a normal pre-season.”
Karlsson is anxious to get back.
“I want to keep playing hockey and I’ve been wanting to get back for quite some time now,” said Karlsson. “There’s not much you can do about this situation. I still enjoy myself on the ice and I’m going to have to do this for a little bit longer.
“What’s most important is that we get a deal done that is good for everyone. We’re not going to give up anything just because we want to get it over with. We want to make it right. Everybody wants that as well: Make a deal that’s going to make everyone happy and last for a long time.”
Karlsson had no second thoughts about returning to North America even with a cloud hanging over the start of NHL camps. If there is a lockout, he plans to try to find a place to play, but understands his options are limited.
“Sweden closed their league and that was probably going to be my No. 1 option if it was available. It isn’t, so I guess I’m going to have to wait to see what’s going to happen here and I’m probably not going to do anything here for awhile,” he said.
“It depends how long it drags on. We don’t have that many options anymore. Russia is one. I don’t know if you want to go there anymore. We’ll see about that. Switzerland is going to be hard because they only have so many imports on each team ... maybe the Swedish Elite League changes its mind once (the lockout) gets closer.”
Karlsson doesn’t have any hard feelings towards his home country.
“I understand it as well,” said Karlsson. “It’s a decision that probably best for the league long term, but I think all the fans want to see some exciting players going back to their old teams and some other players they don’t get the opportunity to see live. Maybe there’ll be a change in their decision.”
It could get quiet for Karlsson if there is no hockey, but he didn’t have a quiet summer by any stretch of the imagination. He attended the NHL awards in Las Vegas in June, got married in July and went on a safari to Kenya with his new bride Therese for their honeymoon. He also has the souvenir from his Norris Trophy victory, but it needs a little repair job.
“Peter Regin broke it, actually. He dropped it,” said Karlsson, referring to the replica he got. “It’s easy to fix, though. He was looking at it and the top of it fell off and broke.”
Karlsson can only hope the CBA repair job doesn’t take long.