The Ukiah Daily Journal

Is it worth it for Sharks to retain big money in any Karlsson deal?

- By Curtis Pashelka

There has always been a general understand­ing that if the San Jose Sharks were willing to trade defenseman Erik Karlsson, they would have to retain a significan­t amount of money on his contract, which carries an $11.5 million cap hit for the next four years.

A Karlsson deal wouldn't work for the Edmonton Oilers unless the Sharks retain between $4 million and $5 million, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said Saturday night.

That would reduce the average annual value of Karlsson's deal, which lasts through the 20262027 season, to between $6.5 and $7.5 million — a much more digestible figure for the Oilers or any NHL team, for that matter.

Presumably, the more the Sharks retain in any Karlsson trade, the more they would get in return.

It is unclear if Sharks general manager Mike Grier would be open to such a move, as it would likely depend on what San Jose would get in return.

In January, the two teams reportedly discussed a deal for the twotime Norris Trophy winner, but those talks did not get very far. Some reports suggested the Sharks were willing to retain between 18 and 20 percent of Karlsson's contract but wanted three first-round draft picks in return.

Asked about that report in January, Grier said, “I'm not going to really get into what we're asking for but I don't think that's totally accurate.”

Earlier Saturday, TSN'S Chris Johnston tweeted that the Sharks and the Oilers had reengaged in trade discussion­s regarding Karlsson — an indication, perhaps, that both sides might be willing to meet somewhere in the middle.

The Oilers are in the market for a puck-moving defenseman, Friedman said, and they likely wouldn't be able to do much better than Karlsson, who is on pace to become the first NHL defenseman in over 30 years to score 100 points in a season.

Going into Sunday's Sharks game with the Washington Capitals, Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen with 17 goals, 53 assists, and 70 points. He leads the league — regardless of position — with 52 even strength points.

Karlsson plays over 25 minutes per game and has scored or assisted on 43 percent of the Sharks' goals this season.

That's a huge hole to try and fill. Could take years.

So does a Karlsson trade that involves 40 percent retention of his contract make sense for the Sharks organizati­on, who might not want to enter a protracted rebuild that lasts another two or three years?

“I'd have to be an offer that we feel makes us stronger in the future and gives us the ability to help kind of turn this thing around quicker,” Grier said last month. “At the end of the day, it's got to be something that makes sense for us as an organizati­on to move someone like him.

“I'm not out there dying to get rid of this defenseman who is on pace for 100 points. I'm not trying to get him out the door, but if it's something that makes sense, and it can help us kind of turn this thing around a little bit quicker, then it's something we'll have to seriously think about.”

If they stay on their same trajectory, the Sharks will likely wind up with a first-round pick in the top six or seven, with a small chance of moving up to nos. 1 or 2 in the draft lottery. Trading Karlsson and pending RFA Timo Meier would likely net two more first-round picks this year, likely in the 20th to 30th overall range.

Those deals could also bring in other assets, such as more picks, prospects still in junior or college hockey, or promising NHL players in their early twenties.

That could help set the Sharks up for some longterm success, although there likely would be some more pain in the meantime.

Karlsson has a full nomovement clause in his eight-year. $92 million contract, with full veto power over any trade that's brought to him.

Does he even want to go to Edmonton? Maybe. Karlsson has expressed his desire to be on a winning team, and the Sharks have made the playoffs just once in his four-plus seasons with the organizati­on — in 2018-2019 when they made the Western Conference Final. Since then, the Sharks have missed the playoffs three straight years by wide margins, and at 16-26-11 so far this season will once again be out of the picture.

Playing with Connor Mcdavid and Leon Draisaitl to chase a Stanley Cup might be a tempting propositio­n for Karlsson, and the Oilers appear readymade for a deep run in a wide-open Western Conference. Plus, he's used to being in a hockey-mad market, given his lengthy time in Ottawa.

If the Sharks retain $5 million on a Karlsson deal, that would leave them with close to $11 million in dead cap space next season, and roughly $9.4 million the following year.

The Sharks retained $2.72 million for this season and the next two as part of last year's Brent Burns trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, and are in their second season removed from the Martin Jones buyout, which will be on the books for the next four years at an average of close to $2 million per season.

But those figures might not be a huge impediment for the Sharks, whose only pricey player in need of a new contract is Meier, who is widely believed to be a player on the move before the March 3 trade deadline.

 ?? BRUCE BENNETT — GETTY IMAGES ?? Connor Mcdavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates with Erik Karlsson (65) of the San Jose Sharks after scoring a goal between the Central Division and the Pacific Division during the 2023 NHL All-star Game at FLA Live Arena on February 04, in Sunrise, Florida.
BRUCE BENNETT — GETTY IMAGES Connor Mcdavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates with Erik Karlsson (65) of the San Jose Sharks after scoring a goal between the Central Division and the Pacific Division during the 2023 NHL All-star Game at FLA Live Arena on February 04, in Sunrise, Florida.

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