Monday, December 4, 2017

Weekend wrap: Where do Doughty and Karlsson end up?

We’ve reached the point in the season where our attention tends to turn toward the future. Things have settled in, and our view of who’s good and who’s not isn’t swinging wildly day to day anymore. But there’s still plenty of season left, so it’s tempting to start thinking ahead to the trade deadline, the final stretch run, or the playoffs.

Or, as was the case this weekend, to the summer of 2019.

If that seems a little too far ahead, we can thank Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson. The Kings’ defenceman got the ball rolling with a revealing interview late last week in which he admitted he was already looking ahead to free agency, and that he would be touching base with fellow 2019 UFA Karlsson to make sure they’re on the same page in terms of money. The Senators’ star then stoked that fire by telling a reporter that “When I go to market, I’m going to get what I’m worth.”

Well then. In a league where franchise players almost never make it to free agency, hearing Doughty and Karlsson muse about it openly was a surprise. Most players would mumble something about not thinking ahead, just being focused on winning tonight’s game, and hey let’s get pucks in deep. Not these two, apparently.

So naturally, fans around the league immediately started in on figuring how to react, parsing the specific words — does it mean anything that Karlsson said “when” he goes to market, not if? — and trying to figure out what number Doughty would wear for the Maple Leafs. (That last one may have just been in Toronto.) Meanwhile, fans in L.A. and Ottawa were really wishing everyone would leave them alone and go back to speculating about John Tavares.

Well, no such luck today. Instead, let’s try to handicap where the two stars will end up.

Possibility #1: Both guys re-sign before actually hitting UFA status

After all the speculation, both players do what virtually everyone else does and sign extensions well before they get to the market — maybe as early at July 1 of next year.

Odds of it happening: 80%

Entertainment value for Kings and/or Sens fans: It would be more like relief than entertainment, but they’d take it.

Entertainment value for the rest of us: Minimal.

Possibility #2: Both guys re-sign, but at least one makes it to UFA status first

A.K.A. “The Stamkos”

Odds of it happening: 5%

Entertainment value for Kings and/or Sens fans: Right up there with skydiving with a faulty parachute that doesn’t open the first few times you pull the chord, but eventually does.

Entertainment value for the rest of us: Strong for a day or two, then minimal.

Possibility #3: At least one guy gets traded

Hey, you can’t let him walk for nothing, right?

Odds of it happening: 7%

Entertainment value for Kings and/or Sens fans: Solid. They wouldn’t like it, but you’d get a ton in return for either guy. And if it did come to this, plenty of fans in Ottawa or L.A. would have already turned against the guy and talked themselves into moving on for the good of the franchise.

Entertainment value for the rest of us: Sky-high, especially if it comes after months of speculation. Trades are the best.

Possibility #4: At least one guy actually switches teams in free agency

I mean, it has happened before with star defencemen in their prime. There was Scott Niedermayer in 2006 and Zdeno Chara in 2007 and… uh… basically those two.

Odds of it happening: 7%

Entertainment value for Kings and/or Sens fans: Less than zero. Unless the departure came on the heels of a Cup win, this would be devastating.

Entertainment value for the rest of us: High, right up until the player ended up signing with your team’s biggest rival.

Possibility #5: Both guys end up on the same team

They’re represented by the same agency. They’ve already admitted they’re going to work together on this. They seem like friends. Is anyone else getting a Selanne/Kariya vibe here?

Odds of it happening: 1%

Entertainment value for Kings and/or Sens fans: We’ll be at the bar.

Entertainment value for the rest of us: Save us a seat; we can all drown our sorrows while we watch the same team get handed the Stanley Cup for the next few years.

Road to the Cup

The five teams that look like they’re headed towards Stanley Cup–favourite status.

5. Los Angeles Kings (17-8-3, +22 true goals differential*): They’ve retaken the Pacific thanks to five straight wins and a Golden Knights slump.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets (17-9-1, +11): They’ve got a big Metro showdown with the Devils this week, as the two will face off in back-to-back games (with two days off in between, for some reason).

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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