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REPORT: Friedman Still Thinks Pens or Canes for Karlsson, ‘Tipping’ Towards Pittsburgh



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

“The toughest thing with this story is it kind of ebbs and flows.”

That’s how Elliotte Friedman described the Erik Karlsson trade saga on NHL Network, in its third week, since rumors went into hyperdrive on Jul. 1.

There’s been one constant though, for the most part, since the beginning of the league’s 2023-24 calendar.

“I still do think it’s primarily two teams, Pittsburgh and Carolina,” the insider said. “If there’s somebody else there, I’m not aware of it.”

Friedman thinks things are looking up for the Penguins. But are they looking up for the San Jose Sharks?

“At times, I’ve had people tell me that they think it’s more likely that Carolina is going to be the destination,” he reported. “I’ve, at other times, including [conversations] most recently, I’ve had people say to me, no, they kind of think it’s tipping a little bit towards Pittsburgh.”

According to Friedman, two things appear to be holding the Canes back in the Karlsson derby. An NHL scout suggested a third issue to SJHN recently too.


“Carolina has a lot of balls in the air. They’re trying to deal with Brett Pesce’s situation. I think they’ve talked to some teams about [Teuvo] Teravainen, if they need to make some cap room,” Friedman explained. “Carolina’s got a few things going on that are not only incumbent on Karlsson, but also incumbent on players like Pesce and Teravainen, who are going [into] the last year of their deals.”

Pesce, 28, is a highly-coveted defenseman who has just a $4.025 million AAV in 2023-24, but is about to become a UFA. The Hurricanes are believed to be looking to extend Pesce. Failing that, they seem ready to deal him to the highest bidder.

Teravainen, 28, is a skilled two-way winger with a $5.4 million AAV in 2023-24, but also a UFA after that. He suffered an injury-riddled campaign this past season, so his trade value is far from its peak.

San Jose Hockey Now suggested Teravainen’s inclusion in an attempt at a “reasonable” San Jose Sharks-Carolina trade proposal that was vetted by multiple league sources.

SJHN Podcast: Sturm on Moving Forward Without Karlsson, Source Says 3rd Team Needed To Make Trade Happen

The Canes’ second issue?

“It comes down to what is the sweet spot on what Karlsson’s kept salary by San Jose will be,” Friedman said. “In particular, I think Carolina’s got a number in mind that at this point in time, I don’t think San Jose’s going to get to.”

Another possible snag? Maybe the loaded Hurricanes, expected to be Cup contenders next year with or without Karlsson, just aren’t that interested.

“I’d expect Carolina to be bargain-hunting more than anything,” an NHL scout told SJHN recently, “the same way they did with Burns.”

The Canes acquired Brent Burns with 34 percent retention from the Sharks ($2.7 million AAV for each of three more years) for Steven Lorentz, Eetu Makiniemi, and a 2023 third-round pick last summer.

Like Friedman implied, and SJHN has heard too, the Hurricanes are in on pretty much everything. It’s hard to say how much they’re prioritizing Karlsson, if at all.

So what’s next?

“We’ll see what Pittsburgh can do,” Friedman said.

The problem here for the San Jose Sharks, from my point of view? Be it because of the risk involved with Karlsson’s contract, four more years at $11.5 million AAV, or the Sharks’ apparent unwillingness to retain as much on his contract as other teams had hoped, there just aren’t a lot of suitors for Karlsson.

At this rate, the Sharks aren’t getting much back for the 2023 Norris Trophy winner.

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