The Ottawa Senators agreed to trade defenseman Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, ending months of speculation that Ottawa would look to find a new home for the two-time Norris Trophy winner.

Erik Karlsson trade
The Ottawa Senators traded star defenseman Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a package of draft picks and young players. (Image: Karl B. DeBlaker/AP)

In exchange for the high-scoring defenseman, the Sharks sent a first-round pick and a second-round pick to Ottawa along with two more conditional picks and four players: Chris Tierney, Josh Norris, Rudolfs Balcers, and Dylan DeMelo.

Rebuilding Ottawa Roster

Rumors that Karlsson could be on the move last year, as Ottawa began looking to rebuild their roster. The team and the 28-year-old star had made little progress on a contract extension, leading to speculation that the team would look to trade away their captain before the season began.

In addressing the trade, Senators general manager referenced the rebuilding effort, saying it was time for Ottawa to look towards the future.

“This is the right moment for us to rebuild our team, and shape our future with a faster, younger and more competitive team on the ice,” Dorion told reporters. “We are going to build a culture of consistency which will allow this team to sustain better performance over the long term.”

Just two seasons ago, the Senators looked to be moving in the right direction, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. But last year was a major step back, as the team finished seventh in the Atlantic Division, 30 points outside of playoff position.

Last year was also disappointing for Karlsson on an individual level. Having played with Ottawa since his debut in the 2009-10 season, the Swedish defenseman has emerged as one of the best scorers in the league, having scored 518 points in his career and twice finishing among the top 10 scorers overall in the NHL.

But following offseason ankle surgery, Karlsson struggled to find his form last year. He scored just nine goals for the season, while tallying 53 assists in 71 games.

Karlsson Joining ‘Extremely Competitive’ Squad

The Sharks certainly hope Karlsson can play up to his elite reputation going forward. The Sharks are coming off a season in which they made the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights, and appear set up to be a contender for years to come.

“I think it will be an extremely competitive team,” Karlsson said after the trade was announced. “The culture they have there is a winning culture. They were recently in the Stanley Cup Final and they’ve been making the playoffs year after year.”

Ottawa will receive an additional first-round draft pick if Karlsson ends up on the roster of an Eastern Conference team this year. They will get a second-round pick if Karlsson re-signs with the Sharks, which can become a first-rounder if San Jose reaches the Stanley Cup Final this coming season.

The addition of Karlsson should only serve to solidify San Jose’s position as a contender for the Stanley Cup. William Hill lists the Sharks as a 15/1 choice to win a championship in the 2018-19 season, behind a pack of favorites that includes the Tampa Bay Lightning (15/2) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (8/1). Meanwhile, Ottawa (100/1) is among the teams with the longest odds of hoisting the Stanley Cup this season.

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