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Offseason Watch: Karlsson Mania

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There’s plenty of speculation as to where Erik Karlsson’s going to land. Please let it be in the Eastern Conference.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Los Angeles Kings Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The hockey offseason has slid nicely on from Tavares Watch and straight into Karlsson Watch. Rumors of an imminent trade have been floating out for the past day or so, sending most of the hockey world into a where’s he going to land frenzy.

I’m sure it’s nice to be sitting around pondering whether your team is going to be able to snag elite talent, generational or otherwise. Who wouldn’t want to dream that you could wake up the next morning and find out that Erik Karlsson has been freed from the chaos that is the Ottawa Senators and is now on your very own NHL team of choice. If you ask me, that sounds like a heck of a fantasy.

But it also seems incredibly stressful to all fanbases involved. I’m anxious just reading the breathless coverage of it all. Take a peek in at Tampa Bay Lightning Twitter to see how they’re coping with the possibility of gaining Karlsson. (Or Dallas Stars Twitter, for the brief period of time where the Stars were alleged to be a front-runner.) There’s a lot of frayed nerves going on there.

(Ottawa Senators fans seem to be less nervous and more … well … justifiably furious.)

Sure, it would be nice to be in a world where the Kings were prepared to do whatever it takes to land a big name. Could you imagine if the Kings’ center depth went Kopitar/Tavares/Carter/Kempe? Or if Drew Doughty were suddenly competing with Erik Karlsson to see who can play the most minutes? If the salary cap were a little more flexible, just think about the dream team you could build. (Looking at you, Golden State.)

A trade for Karlsson brings up the same questions we’ve talked about when speculating on a trade for Max Pacioretty or Jeff Skinner: at what cost? If Max Pacioretty costs you Adrian Kempe or Tyler Toffoli or Jaret Anderson-Dolan — or all of the above — is it worth it? The Kings have spent years tearing apart their prospect pipeline in the quest for the Stanley Cup, and only now have they begun to amass the sorts of prospects who will be able to step in very soon and help the team.

The Lightning clearly think they’re on the cusp of a Cup — two conference finals, one Stanley Cup final, and one season that probably would have been right up there, if not for an injury to Steven Stamkos. The Stars have had less post-season success but the upgrade in defense could help put them over the top. It makes sense, if you think you’re that close, only one player away.

It’s nice to dream. We’ve got a lot of off-season still. It’s okay to wonder what if.

For now, let’s just be happy that it appears that Karlsson isn’t coming to the Pacific. I don’t know about you, but those Karlsson-to-Vegas rumors … oof. No thank you. We don’t need to see him out here any more than necessary.

I’m crossing my fingers for Tampa Bay.

Kings Things

Ontario Reign defenseman Sean Walker signed a two-year entry level contract with the Kings. He was previously on an AHL contract. Walker scored seven goals and had 28 assists over 64 games with the Reign last season and led all Ontario defensemen in assists and total points. [ Ontario Reign ]

Jesse Cohen spoke with Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Akil Thomas, Jacob Ingham, and Drake Rymsha about their experiences at development camp. [ LA Kings ]

Akil Thomas joined the Toronto Talks Sports podcast in episode 14 to talk about being drafted, as well as his apparel company. [ Toronto Talks Sports ]

Matt Villalta, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, and Gabe Vilardi will be representing Canada at the World Junior Showcase in Kamloops, July 28 through August 4. [ Hockey Canada ]

Former Kings Things

Former Kings/Reign goalie Jeff Zatkoff is headed to Europe. He’s signed with the Straubing Tigers in Germany. [ Straubing Tigers ]

Two-time Stanley Cup champion Jordan Nolan has signed a one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues. [ St. Louis Blues ]

Christian Folin signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. At the close of the season, the Kings seemed to be leaving open the possibility that he would return, but it’s not to be. [ Philadelphia Flyers ]

Everything Else

If you’re interested in a basic hockey stats introduction, Ryan Stimson has written two fairly comprehensive primers. The content is Buffalo-centric, but you can make your own extrapolations. [ The Athletic, Part One | Part Two ]

Anthony Duclair, frequently mentioned around here as someone the Kings could have targeted in free agency, signed a one-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets for $650,000. [ Columbus Blue Jackets ]

Forty-four players have officially elected salary arbitration (several have already agreed to new contracts). No Kings are on the list. [ NHLPA ]

Alex Burrows has officially retired. He’ll join the Laval Rocket as an assistant coach. [ NHLPA ]

Hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser recently made some comments about women’s hockey, leadership, and a merger/NHL takeover that’s started some discussion in the women’s hockey world. Hannah and Michelle of The Ice Garden devoted the most recent episode of their podcast to furthering that discussion. [ The Ice Garden ]

If you’re interested in nerding out about hockey in ways that go past stats and systems — if you’re interested in learning about hockey in ways that intersect with community building, popular culture, gender and sexuality, history, race and ethnicity, and more — then the Hockey Conference is for you. Held every other year in Canada, this year’s version is going on now in Edmonton. While I didn’t get to go this year, I went in 2016 and had a ton of fun learning from scholars who are just really, really into this sport. Check out their Twitter, webpage, and hashtag (#hockeyconf2018) to follow along with this year’s event.