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Karlsson Surprised by Hertl, Dismisses Sens’ Trade Speculation: ‘That’s Canada’



Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

PITTSBURGH – You never forget your first team.

Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl – and Harlow Karlsson – know.

Karlsson confirmed to San Jose Hockey Now that for his four-year-old daughter Harlow, SJ Sharkie is still the one. Harlow was born in San Jose, and Sharkie was the first mascot in her life.

SJHN Daily: SJ Sharkie Says Good-Bye to Harlow Karlsson

One day, Iceburgh!

In much the same way, Karlsson knows all about the tough decision that Hertl made recently, choosing to leave the rebuilding San Jose Sharks for the contending Vegas Golden Knights.

The Sharks had drafted Hertl in 2012, and it’s in San Jose where Hertl emerged as a star and a leader and a family man.

Karlsson followed much of the same track with the Ottawa Senators, who drafted him in 2008 and traded him to the contending Sharks in 2018.

“I’m sure it was bittersweet for him. No one wants to leave after being in a place for that long,” Karlsson said. “I’m sure he’s excited for the opportunity as well.”

Karlsson will be cheering on his good friend.

“He’s going to get a chance to go to a good team, compete for the Stanley Cup, which is why we play this game,” he said. “It’ll be fun to follow him in Vegas now.”

Karlsson will see a lot of good friends across the ice tonight, his Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the San Jose Sharks. The rebuilding Sharks traded the 2023 Norris Trophy winner to the Penguins this past summer.

The Sharks weren’t great last year even with Karlsson’s 101 points, ending up as the fourth-worst team in the NHL – and somehow, they’re even worse this year.

“It’s never fun to watch,” Karlsson said of San Jose’s struggles. “You have a lot of friends over there still, care about them deeply. I’ve been through it a couple times. It’s not fun, it’s hard. It’s a battle. They’re good people.”

Karlsson is looking forward to brighter days for the San Jose Sharks – and himself.

“They’ve got a bit of a road ahead of themselves. That’s unfortunately all you can do sometimes is go through it, wait for the better times, which eventually is going to come,” he said.

And the 33-year-old defenseman still sees his future in Pittsburgh, despite a disappointing individual and team campaign. The Penguins are seven points out of the last wild card berth, and Karlsson has eight goals and 44 points in 64 contests. That’s a healthy amount, but obviously, well off last year’s admittedly otherworldly pace.

The Pens were just in Karlsson’s old Ottawa stomping grounds, and he was greeted by a fresh round of trade speculation.

Friedman: Penguins Could Trade Erik Karlsson Back to Ottawa

“That’s Canada for you,” Karlsson said of speculation that the Senators and old friend Daniel Alfredsson would want him back. “I played there for a long time so I kind of know how that game works. They’ve got a lot of things to talk about everyday to [fill] a lot of airtime, but they only have a few things to actually discuss.

“They like to make up these what-if scenarios. That’s just the way it is, and it’s not something that I really look into or worry too much about.”

So Karlsson, three years left on his contract after this season at $10 million AAV (Sharks are retaining $1.5 million), is still committed to the Steel City.

“I’ve been welcomed great here,” he said. “It obviously hasn’t gone the way that we expected, but it’s a great group of guys in here and a fantastic organization. I’ve enjoyed my time so far, and I’m looking forward to the future as well.”

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