The point I was trying to make about last year's playoff run was that the Sens won two rounds of which they could have just as easily lost (lots of OT, comeback, and one goal games) to mediocre opponents. Just about every insider and analyst bet against Ottawa, and while proven wrong, they weren't that far off given how close the series were. Something else to consider is the fact that the Sens finished three points ahead of both Boston and Toronto in the standings. Had we played against Toronto I am not sure we would have won that series. Had we ended up playing Washington, which was a real concern going down the stretch, we probably would have lost and we'd be having a completely different conversation right now. The argument I am making is yes, we may have been a goal away from the cup finals, but we were also a goal or two away from losing in the first and second rounds to not so good teams. Washington, Montreal, Columbus, Pittsburgh, NYR finished with more points. We tied a decimated Boston team, finished slightly ahead of a rookie Toronto team, and Tampa had an off year and narrowly missed the playoffs.
If we are to retain Karlsson at almost double his salary (which for the sake of this argument I will use $11M/year vs $12M), the Sens will be locked into the following (and I am projecting Duchene+Stone extensions and rounding to whole numbers for the sake of easy math):
Karlsson - $11M
Ryan - $7M
Stone - $7M
Duchene - $8M
Hoffman - $5M
Gaborik - $5M
Anderson - $5M
I believe last year we spent approximately $72M. The above $48M is being spent on 5 forwards, 1 defenceman, and 1 goalie leaving roughly $24M for 15 players (7 forwards, 5 defenceman, 1 goalie and 2 swing players for a 22 person roster). I get that we will have a lot of players on ELCs next season, but that's approximately $1.6M per player to reach the $72M cap, with Ceci needing a new contract, Smith, Condon, Burrows, Dzingel not going anywhere, glaring holes on our defense including needing a top-pair d-man, Phaneuf's retained salary, and an owner who probably isn't going to buy anybody out (no way he buys out Ryan or Gaborik, maybe Burrows but he'll probably be buried in the minors if anything). So we're spending $48M on the same players that we finished 2nd worst in the NHL with.
Wprager is stating that Karlsson is not Crosby. I agree with him and I don't. Crosby can shoulder a team by himself and while I can argue that Karlsson can do the same, it's different given their positions and supporting casts. I'd argue that Karlsson is a lot like Ovechkin in that they're dominant players but need a good supporting cast around them. Crosby seems to make everyone else around him better. Crosby is also making less than $9M a season. That $2-3M extra that Karlsson will make is huge to a cap team especially when they're anchored with bad contracts at every position and massive holes in the defense.
If you can move Karlsson and Ryan, approximately $18-20M comes off the board in return for good prospects and/or picks. The money savings is huge and is needed to address the other positions on the team. I get that Karlsson is virtually irreplaceable as a #1 RHD, but what we get back in a trade plus the cap space we have can go a long way in fixing every other area of this team. I believe steps are being made in the right direction by bringing in young goalies and an appetite to play younger players, but we're quickly pricing ourselves out by retaining Duchene, Karlsson, and Stone while having Ryan, Gaborik, Anderson, etc still on multi-year contracts.
My argument for Ottawa not winning with Karlsson - not because he's a bad player but because we can't afford to keep him given the other contracts we have and the amount of holes and bad contracts on the team. Moving him and Ryan for cap room and assets help make this a much more well-rounded team which I believe is what we need for Ottawa to be successful. We're too dependent on one player which is why we struggled so mightily this year.