Erik Karlsson isn’t bothered by the trade rumors.
On Tuesday, San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier made waves when he admitted a willingness to “listen” to trade offers for Karlsson.
Yesterday, Elliotte Friedman reported that Karlsson’s old team, the Ottawa Senators, had talked with the Sharks about re-acquiring their former franchise defenseman.
Karlsson has a no-movement clause included in his eight-year, $92 million dollar contract, so he would have to approve any potential deal.
“If that question ever arises, it’s going to be between me and Griersy. And it has not,” Karlsson confirmed today. “So there’s no point for me to even think about that or speculate.”
There are, of course, more obstacles than just Karlsson’s NMC for a trade.
It’s not obvious what team, even with Karlsson’s blazing start this season, is ready to take on the risk associated with his contract. After this season, the 32-year-old has four more seasons left on his pact at an $11.5 million dollar AAV, which makes him the highest-paid defenseman in the NHL. Also, three of his last four seasons have ended prematurely because of injury.
For the Sharks too, there doesn’t appear to be much motivation to trade their best player either, especially if they need to retain a significant amount on Karlsson’s contract and/or accept a quarter-on-the-dollar trade package back.
Point is: An Erik Karlsson trade is highly, highly unlikely right now, and in the immediate future.
It would be different if Karlsson actively wanted to leave San Jose. But unlike Brent Burns, 36, who was ready to move on and chase a Stanley Cup this past summer when Grier sent him to the Carolina Hurricanes, Karlsson has shown no indication that he wants to leave the Sharks.
“I’m fully invested here at the moment,” Karlsson, who leads all NHL defensemen in goals and points, offered. “We’re in a situation where we need to win a few games here, and I’m just worried about the next one. That’s all I can control.”
But it’s Grier’s job as GM to pick up the phone, and Karlsson knows it.
“I understand Griersy’s comments. He’s got an open mindset about everything, and he should. We haven’t been a good hockey club in a long time, and that’s the way it goes,” the star defenseman acknowledged.
The San Jose Sharks, of course, have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons.
Karlsson emphasized that he has a strong and honest relationship with Grier, which the GM alluded to on Tuesday.
“First and foremost, Griersy is a good guy. He’s played the game fairly recently,” Karlsson said of the new GM, who retired in 2011. “I think that he understands the situation that we’re in, what we care about as a player, what we value and how we think. I think he’s done a really good job not only with me, but with everybody ever since he came in here.
“It’s how he’s conducted himself. The way that he speaks, he says some things, but he doesn’t say a lot. He’s been observing and I think that’s the position that he needed to take.”
So for Karlsson, this week’s media circus is much-ado about nothing.
“I’m just lucky that I come from a place where these kinds of [trade rumors are] a regular basis, so I don’t read too much into it,” he noted, perhaps referencing the speculation that dogged him throughout his last season in Ottawa in 2017-18. The Sens traded Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks in Sept. 2018.
“I’ll let you guys debate and talk about what it is and what not.”
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