OTTAWA -- Erik Karlsson was not traded by the Ottawa Senators prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday, and general manager Pierre Dorion said the plan is to keep the defenseman for his entire NHL career.
"I think Erik wants to be a Senator for life," Dorion said Monday after the 3 p.m. deadline passed. "I don't want to speak for him, I'll let him speak for himself. We'll see what the next few months bring, but if Erik Karlsson is here on July 1, we will be making him a contract offer."
Karlsson's six-year contract is up after next season and he can sign an eight-year extension with Ottawa as soon as July 1. It's expected many NHL teams will be attempt to sign him if he does become an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
Dorion said teams began to ask about Karlsson this offseason.
"If a player of Erik Karlsson's caliber was on the market, I'd be phoning, and I'd probably be phoning every day, that opposing GM," Dorion said. "But Erik's a franchise player, and we felt there was no franchise deal out there that could satisfy us to make the best hockey deal."
Video: The guys discuss the Senators that didn't get traded
Karlsson has 42 points (five goals, 37 assists) in 56 games this season. He has led them in points in each of the past four seasons; he's second this season to forward Mark Stone (56 points) but missed the first five games of the season recovering from offseason surgery to repair torn tendons in his left foot. Karlsson has been Senators captain since Oct. 2, 2014.
"We did not actively shop Erik Karlsson," Dorion said. "We did not. But when a player of his caliber is rumored to be on the market, or when a team is struggling like ourselves, teams are going to inquire about him. And we have to listen, we have to do what's best for this organization short-, medium- and long-term. And I don't think we would be doing our job if we wouldn't be at least listening on offers."
Karlsson's relationship with the Senators has come into question lately. Dorion said he and the 27-year-old had a good meeting Monday morning.
"I'm told about a lot of stuff that is just pure tooling nonsense," Dorion said. "It's almost to the point of stupidity and I shouldn't even comment on it. Erik and I have a great relationship."
Before the deadline, it was a possibility that the Senators would trade forwards Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and defenseman Cody Ceci, but they all remained with Ottawa.
"The only direction I got from my boss, Mr. [Eugene] Melnyk, is 'Make the best hockey deals for the Ottawa Senators,'" Dorion said. "And today, I didn't feel that there were good enough hockey deals for this organization."
Video: NHL Tonight on Cole trade to Jackets, Sens' future
Ottawa did trade defenseman Ian Cole to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and forward prospect Nick Moutrey, and traded forward Nick Shore to the Calgary Flames for a seventh-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
The Senators lost defenseman Johnny Oduya on waivers to the Philadelphia Flyers. Forward Alexandre Burrows cleared waivers and will remain with Ottawa.
Ottawa traded veterans ahead of the deadline, including forwards Nate Thompson and Derick Brassard, and defenseman Dion Phaneuf. Dorion said younger players now have a better opportunity to grow.
"A guy like [forward Ben] Harpur is in his third year of pro, so he should be able to do that," Dorion said. "A guy like (defenseman) Thomas Chabot is, I think, on the cusp of being a superstar. So, if those guys play more minutes, they can develop, they're more ready to do it at this level."
Ottawa (21-30-10) is 15 points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference one season after losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
"I don't think this team has quit," Dorion said. "I think there might've been one game in the last while I don't think the team was ready, but for the most part, I haven't seen any players quit. We don't want to develop any bad habits, we don't want any cheating. At the same time, we want to still play within our system, still play within our structure."