January 21, 2018 | 11:40am ET



Erik Karlsson, defenceman


Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion inadvertently poured fuel on the Erik Karlsson trade rumour fire on Thursday when he mentioned that if Wayne Gretzky was traded, he could surely listen to offers for captain Erik Karlsson.

Karlsson, who has one-year left on his contract after this season, is not expected to be dealt by the Feb. 26 trade deadline, and when asked by the Ottawa Sun, he claims “nothing” has changed in terms of his relationship with the organization.

“I’m an Ottawa Senator,” he told the paper. “I’ve been here for nine years. I’ve given everything I possibly have into this organization and this steam and I’m going to keep doing that.

“We’re at the bottom of the league and not doing a good job here and my contract is about to be up here and discussions are going to be made. It’s not something I can control and I’m going to do the job that I feel like I have done as long as I’ve been here to be successful and whatever happens, it’s not going to be my decision.”

The Senators cannot officially sign Karlsson to a contract extension until July 1, but the two sides can certainly have preliminary contract discussions, something that does not appear to have happened, yet.

If Karlsson opens next season without a new contract, though, the trade banter will continue and the Senators will have to take a serious look at moving him, if a contract does not seem to be on the horizon.