Senators GM Bryan Murray says locking up defenceman Erik Karlsson a priority

OTTAWA – Bryan Murray has every intention of re-signing defenceman Erik Karlsson, the only question is when and for how much.

The Ottawa Senators general manager spoke to media Thursday and said the two sides have held preliminary discussions. He hopes to further discussions next week when both sides will be in Las Vegas for the NHL awards.

Karlsson, who finished the season with 19 goals and 78 points, was named a Norris Trophy nominee. Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Nashville’s Shea Weber were also nominated for the award, handed out to the league’s top defenceman. The awards will be held June 20th.

“I believe his people are going to be in Vegas and I’m hoping that they’ll buy me a coffee,”said Murray.“Maybe we can sit down and talk one of the mornings before the awards ceremony.

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“We haven’t thrown numbers around, we don’t know, but we do know we want to get together.”

Karlsson, selected 15th overall in 2008, had a breakthrough season and is seen as a cornerstone player for the franchise. Karlsson is coming off his entry-level contract that had a cap hit of $1.3 million and is expected to be looking for a significant increase.

Murray is aware that another team could present an offer sheet, but isn’t overly concerned by the prospect.

“I’m not saying something wouldn’t happen with another club, but I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t think that we would match no matter what,”said Murray.“We’re going to negotiate on the basis that we have time. We will get it done. It sounds like both parties want to get it done; it’s just a matter of getting the right number.”