The Erik Karlsson era is over in Ottawa.
The Senators traded the star defenceman to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, just one day before Ottawa hits the ice for training camp.
The Senators dealt Karlsson and prospect forward Francis Perron to the Sharks. Ottawa gets forwards Chris Tierney and Rudolfs Balcers, defenceman Dylan DeMelo, prospect forward Josh Norris, a conditional 2019 second-round selection and a conditional 2020 first-round pick, If San Jose re-signs Karlsson, Ottawa receives a conditional 2021 second-round selection.
Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, spent the last nine seasons in Ottawa.
Speculation about the captain’s future had been a hot topic in what has been a headline-loaded off-season for the Senators.
The team said it offered Karlsson, who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, a contract extension on July 1.
The six-foot, 191-pound Swede was drafted by the Senators with the 15th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He made his debut in Ottawa the following year.
Karlsson’s breakout campaign came in 2011-12 when he had 78 points (19 goals, 59 assists), while averaging 25:19 of ice time.
Ottawa fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in double overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final in 2017, but struggled mightily last season, finishing 30th in the 31-team NHL with just 67 points.
Karlsson put the Senators on his shoulders in the 2017 playoffs, leading them in scoring with 18 points — including two game-winning goals — in 19 contests, averaging more 28 minutes of ice time despite having torn tendons in his left foot, which required off-season surgery.
Karlsson had 62 points (nine goals, 53 assists) in Ottawa’s disastrous 2017-18 campaign.
In 627 career games, the speedy native of Landsbro, Sweden, has 126 goals and 392 assists, while averaging just under 26 minutes a night. He’s added 37 points (six goals, 31 assists) in 48 playoff outings.
Karlsson’s Norris Trophy wins as the league’s top defenceman came in 2012 and 2015.
The departure of the 28-year-old face of the franchise is the latest development in what has been a turbulent stretch for the Senators.
Things started to go sideways last fall in the nation’s capital after the club returned from a two-game sweep of the Colorado Avalanche in Sweden, going an ugly 1-9-3 over its next 13 to begin a tumble down the standings
Then on the eve of franchise’s showcase outdoor game in mid-December, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk rained on his own parade by musing to reporters at a media availability on Parliament Hill that he might move the team if ticket sales didn’t improve.
That launched the .MelnykOut hashtag on Twitter the same month, and while Melnyk eventually backtracked on the relocation talk, some fans decided to vent their frustration by raising money to fund a series of billboards featuring the slogan.
Through it all, Karlsson’s future remained a key talking point ahead of February’s trade deadline.
He ended up staying put, but tragedy struck in March when Karlsson and his wife Melinda announced their first child, a son they named Axel, was stillborn.
The Senators went their separate ways in April, but more controversy bubbled to the surface in May when former captain and franchise icon Daniel Alfredsson, who left his role with Ottawa as a senior adviser the previous summer, was quoted saying he hopes the team gets a new owner.
Then assistant general manager Randy Lee was charged with harassing a 19-year-old male hotel shuttle driver in Buffalo, N.Y., during the NHL’s pre-draft scouting combine. He was suspended by the team two weeks after being charged.
And if that wasn’t enough, news broke in June that Karlsson’s wife had filed a peace bond against Monika Caryk, the fiancee of former teammate Mike Hoffman, for alleged cyberbullying.
Hoffman, who was traded a week later, and Caryk have denied the allegations.
Lee, who was also GM of the Senators’ AHL affiliate, resigned from both jobs with the organization last month.