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Karlsson contract negotiations ready to start in Ottawa

Jun 5, 2012, 4:39 PM EDT

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Erik Karlsson AP

What should be an interesting contract negotiation is reportedly set to begin in Ottawa between the Senators and star defenseman Erik Karlsson.

“We had a meeting with our staff yesterday and part of our discussion was how we approach (the talks),” Sens GM Bryan Murray said, as per QMI. “We’ve had informal conversations but that’s all. Now, we’ve got to get going on term and what we think is fair from our point. We’ll have to find out what they think and where we can go dollar-wise.

“We’ll get started within the next week, if not earlier.”

Karlsson, 22, led all NHL d-men with 78 points in 81 games. In April, he was named a finalist for the Norris Trophy, along with Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber.

So what do you pay a 22-year-old restricted free agent like Karlsson? It’s a tough question, because there haven’t been many 22-year-old restricted free agents like Karlsson. If there’s a comparable, it could be Tyler Myers, the Buffalo defenseman that signed a seven-year, $38.5 million extension in September ($5.5 million cap hit).

Sens owner Eugene Melnyk has said “it has to be within a reasonable budget.”

Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen figures Melnyk will have to “open the vault,” possibly to the tune of $6 million per season on a long-term deal.

Murray has a ton of cap space to work with; however, the Sens aren’t a team that spends to the cap — something Filip Kuba learned recently.

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