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5 Alternate History Karlsson Scenarios (+)

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Five years ago, the course of San Jose Sharks history changed.

On Sept. 13, 2018, the Sharks acquired two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, then 28, along with prospect Francis Perron, from the Ottawa Senators for Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo, prospects Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers, a 2019 second-round pick (Jamieson Rees), and a 2020 first-round pick (Tim Stutzle). After San Jose re-signed Karlsson to an eight-year, $92 million contract that summer, they also sent Ottawa a 2021 second-round pick (Zack Ostapchuk).

Karlsson’s much-heralded tenure in teal was marked by dazzling highs and dramatic lows.

In his first year, he helped lead the star-laden San Jose Sharks to the 2019 Western Conference Finals. Last season, the 33-year-old won his third Norris Trophy, becoming the first defenseman since Brian Leetch in 1991-92 to eclipse 100 points.

On the other hand, his production dropped precipitously from 2019 to 2022, and the Sharks followed suit, missing the playoffs in those years. Two of those three Karlsson campaigns were also cut short by injury. And even last year, despite his renaissance, San Jose stumbled to the fourth-worst record in the NHL.

Last month, the Sharks traded Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins, in a three-team deal that also involved the Montreal Canadiens. In exchange for Karlsson and retaining $1.5 million AAV of the remaining four years of his contract, San Jose acquired a top-10 protected 2024 first-round pick from Pittsburgh, along with veterans Mikael Granlund, Jan Rutta, and Mike Hoffman.

Anyway, enough with the history lesson.

Let’s talk alternate history.

Specifically, Erik Karlsson’s, when it comes to the Sharks. San Jose Hockey Now has heard some interesting things over the years, now’s the time to share some of it.

Here are five Karlsson/Sharks inflection points, five what-ifs.

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