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Karlsson Has Spoken With Kraken, Maple Leafs About Possible Trade

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Erik Karlsson keeps winning awards.

But perhaps the biggest prize, a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup, is still out there.

For the third time, Karlsson has won the Golden Puck, awarded annually to the Swedish hockey player of the year. On top of Golden Pucks in 2016 and 2017, Karlsson has moved ahead of the likes of Peter Forsberg, Jörgen Jönsson, and Victor Hedman for the most golden pucks in the award’s history.

This comes on the heels of the Victoria Prize, awarded by Princess Victoria of Sweden to the year’s top Swedish athlete, and of course, the Norris Trophy, for the NHL’s best defenseman.

But special as those individual accomplishments are, Karlsson wants to win more than anything. And he knows that it’s not happening with the rebuilding San Jose Sharks.

“I have been open about wanting to try to win and San Jose has been open that it will not happen there,” Karlsson told Adam Johansson of Expressen. “We have a good relationship and we understand each other, even though it is not a fun situation to go through.”

Last season, Karlsson posted 101 points, the first time a defenseman has eclipsed the century mark since Brian Leetch in 1991-92, but the San Jose Sharks had just 60 points, fourth-worst in the NHL.

So the 33-year-old, trying to win his first championship before his current contract expires in 2026-27, has made it clear that he doesn’t want to finish his career in San Jose, at least at the Sharks’ current competitive trajectory.

“I like San Jose and I like it there, but I’ve never gotten to win before. I want that chance now as I’m nearing the end of my career,” he said. “I have been open with Mike [Grier] from the first day he started. He has not had any problems with that. We understand each other and we will do so regardless of what happens in the future.”

Insiders have pointed to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes as the most likely trade destinations, and Karlsson has confirmed their interest, noting that he’s spoken to both teams.

Karlsson also revealed that he’s spoken with the Seattle Kraken and Toronto Maple Leafs too. And?

“There have been a few more teams too,” Karlsson reported. “There is interest. Then it’s about getting everything together. That’s the difficult part. We’ll see if it works out.”

The difficult part, as has been written ad nauseam, is Karlsson’s contract, and he knows it. Karlsson carries an $11.5 million AAV in each of the next four seasons, a massive contract and risk because of his age and injury history: “I earn what I do and the salary cap has barely gone up in three years so money is starting to run out here and there.”

Karlsson, however, doesn’t bemoan his pact, signed in Jun. 2019, and the challenges that it presents for him now.

“Our careers are short, and everyone deserves what they get,” he stressed. “We must capitalize on our market value, so I have no regrets.”

The big question for a Karlsson trade appears to be how much the San Jose Sharks are willing to retain on Karlsson’s remaining contract. At the moment, the Sharks are thought to be unwilling to retain as much as other teams want, leaving Pittsburgh and Carolina as the current favorites for Karlsson. But if San Jose and owner Hasso Plattner would take on more? Does that get Seattle or Toronto or other teams into the Karlsson derby?

Anyway, it doesn’t feel like a trade is imminent. Karlsson noted that the last time that he spoke with GM Mike Grier was “two to three weeks ago.”

But Karlsson repeated, as he told us at the NHL Awards, that he’s open-minded about his next team. Karlsson, of course, has a complete No-Movement Clause.

Karlsson ‘Open-Minded’ About Where He Gets Traded, Would Go Back to Senators

“I don’t have a priority list,” he said. “I’m very open, because I think that will lead to the best option in the end.”

Special thanks to Uffe Bodin for his translation help.

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