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REPORT: Sharks Open to Trading Burns or Karlsson



Credit: AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Could Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns be on the trade block?

Elliotte Friedman reported on Sportsnet yesterday that the San Jose Sharks had “preliminary trade talks” centered around Karlsson early in the season. Also, they’re open to breaking up the Karlsson-Burns defensive duo if the right offer comes along.

“It does look like there were some preliminary, very preliminary, trade talks this year, involving defenseman Erik Karlsson and a couple of teams,” Friedman said. “I don’t necessarily think that’s going to go anywhere.”

After back-to-back sub-standard seasons, Karlsson’s quick start to the 2021-22 campaign – 26 points in 33 games – reminded the hockey world that he’s still a phenomenal talent. But he’s also 31, has had trouble staying healthy over the last half-decade, and has five seasons left on an eight-year, $92 million dollar agreement signed in Jun. 2019.

So it’s not a surprise that these trade talks were “very preliminary” – in a barely-rising cap world, the San Jose Sharks would almost certainly have to retain a significant portion of Karlsson’s $11.5 million AAV to move him.

Friedman continued: “What I do think it says is the Sharks recognize having two elite, Norris Trophy-winning right-shot defensemen hasn’t always mixed as well, meshed as well, as the team would’ve hoped.”

That’s one way of looking at it.

But I don’t think how Burns and Karlsson duplicate each other is the reason why the San Jose Sharks are going on three seasons and running out of the playoffs. Who was complaining about the duo in 2018-19, when Burns was a Norris finalist and Karlsson was arguably the best player in the world in a two-month mid-season stretch that year? When Burns and a clearly-hampered Karlsson led the Sharks to the Western Conference Finals?

Here’s how I look at it: Both aging rearguards declined after that year, though they’re both still impact defensemen. And the team around them – Joe Pavelski left, Evander Kane’s contract got terminated, Joe Thornton hit the wall, and no young Sharks, save Timo Meier, have really emerged to take their places – went south.

“The Sharks have made it clear in their GM search that they are still going to contend, but in a tight cap world, this might be a luxury they have to explore [breaking up],” Friedman said. “Burns, in particular, has less term on his contract than Karlsson. They’re both great players. But I think if the opportunity comes to them where they get something they like, that is something that everyone is going to have to watch with San Jose and the right side of their D.”

Burns has three years left on an eight-year, $64 million dollar pact inked in Nov. 2016. Burns is durable – he hasn’t missed a game since 2014 – and he’s still a top-20 or so blueliner. But he’s also 37.

“One source suggested recently that [Burns] might be ready to move on, which would make sense in that he’s getting up there in age and still hasn’t won a Stanley Cup.”

That was what The Athletic reported – last May.

Does another year older and another season out of the playoffs make Burns want to stay in San Jose more?

San Jose Hockey Now asked Burns directly about a week ago if he’d be interested in going elsewhere to chase the Cup – and his answer was far from a resounding no.

Burns on What Boughner Did Right, If He Wants to Chase Cup Elsewhere

Complicating the matter too: Karlsson has a full No Movement Clause in his contract, while Burns has a three-team trade list (i.e. three teams that the Sharks can trade him to). Essentially, you can trade Karlsson or Burns (beyond his three-team trade list), but they would have to approve.

But who’s making a hockey deal for Burns or Karlsson? Who’s going to give a team that’s looking to win “something they like” for either aging, expensive defenseman?

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Agree with Sheng. It isn’t that Burns and Karlsson overlap in skills. Its that neither is worth the salary cap hit. Burns is a lot closer to his contract value than Karlsson is to his. If the Sharks retain $$, they can trade either guy. Though the Sharks refuse to say they are rebuilding, both players know this team isn’t going deep in the playoffs for at least 3-4 years. Management may tell the fans one thing, but they aren’t fooling everyone. Sharks won’t be highly competitive, even in 3-4 years, with both of these guys still on the roster… Read more »

ampullae of Lorenzini

Whoever ends up with EK for the rest of this contract will be lucky to get 50 games per season out of him. Retaining 50% and getting anything more than a late pick in return is a stretch.


This brings up a question I haven’t thought about/looked into. If the Sharks trade Karlsson with retained salary and then Karlsson is put on LTIR with his new team, does the retained salary also get put on some sort of LTIR? If not, the Sharks likely have more cap space if they don’t tease Karlsson than if they do since he’ll likely spend more than 50% of his time on LTIR.

david barnard

LTIR is reserved for the team placing the player on it. the intent was to give temporary cap relief, in order to ice replacements, while the player is injured/unable to play. so, the answer is NO.

a retained salary/cap situation does come into play if the player is bought ought/retires and his money comes due. any cap recapture penalties would be split accordingly.

Last edited 8 days ago by david barnard

Dump Karlsson. Total bust! That would save the franchise in the short time. Burns still worthy.


🤔 I wonder where Friedman got my notes about Karlsson – Burns isn’t going anywhere if Boughner stays.

Douglas Fowler

New GM coming, that means new coach too


With Trotz available Boughner is gone – but Trotz will have better offers and more money from other teams. Sharks players all like Boughner – Karlsson is probably the only one that doesn’t like the system because his arrogant hockey self reminded everyone that he’s played all the systems. He also made a comment about a change needed and I’m sure that was a ding on the coaches. Get rid of him. Burns has a couple of good years left.

david barnard

exactly, Burns’ last contract, he should be encouraged to seek a cup elsewhere. this team won’t be there in his (career) lifetime.

ted b

Any discussion that does not include ridding the team of its albatross, Vlasik, is wasted conversation and useless potential action. All 3 can go, as far as I care. All 3 lead us nowhere. But retention of Vlasik is a death null for the Sharks unless you need a bird’s eye view and recap of every goal scored against us. If Vlasik stays, can we at least get him a lawn chair to sit in at the blue line so he can just sit and watch as the opposing offense blows by. And take away his stick so he can’t… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by ted b

This is a discussion about players with trade value.

david barnard

Simek’s gone, Burns is gone, MEV is gone, and Boughner is gone before next season (unless Joe Will remains in charge). Karlsson might be the new captain. i still believe he could’ve finished the season, but shut himself w/team consent down. he also would’ve played thru that forearm injury if the Sharks were still playing competitive hockey and going to the post season. that being said, health is still a concern with him going forward.


The issue with committing as much money to Burns and Karlsson as the Sharks have is that only one of them is consistently available to play games. The Sharks can’t trade Burns, because they can’t rely on Karlsson to actually be on the blue line. If they can somehow rid themselves of his contract, that would be incentive enough to do the deal. They don’t need direct value or assets in return, the cap space alone during a strong free agency year would be more than worthwhile.


In my view, Karlsson has not been the same since his ankle was destroyed and artificial tendon put in. He said it affected his lateral agility when coming back. Of course, in the years since, he says it’s back to normal, but you have to wonder. As incredible as medical advancements in surgery have become, that level of ankle reconstruction might not have been able to return him to his prior level of agility. The Sharks doctors signed off on his health before the trade but he was no longer worth being the highest paid d-man when DW gave him… Read more »


Yogi don’t know when you’re going to get it has nothing to do with that ankle. Because he can play when HE wants to – he’s a fragile little fella


Again with the conjecture. Unless you’re friends with EK (which we know you aren’t) or in the locker room, your baseless garble doesn’t really contribute to the conversation. We get it, you can’t stand EK and there’s nothing that will change your mind. How about some objective perspective for once? I know you can when YOU want to.

david barnard

it’s his daily EK65 purge. at this point i’m just thinking of it as a community service.

Last edited 8 days ago by david barnard

EK’s big contract is the only reason this might make sense. Yes, there have been the injuries and it’s hard to swallow not getting 82 games out of him. But when he’s on the ice, he’s still the most pure talented player on the roster. Burns hasn’t been the better player, but he’s stayed healthy and benefited from playing with Mario. EK has had a smattering of different D pairings with Middleton being the only one with consistent play. I fear if the new GM parts with either, you can be sure they’ll tear it up on their new team… Read more »

david barnard

the Karlsson haters seem to be missing that HE controls his own destiny, not the team, and not the new GM.

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