If the San Jose Sharks want value back for Erik Karlsson, they’re probably going to have to retain a lot more on his contract.
Reading between the lines, that could be why, up to now, the only serious suitors for Karlsson appear to be the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes.
“The Sharks are still asking for a haul. And with his contract, even at 20 percent retained, at $9.3, 9.5 million [AAV] per year,” Frank Seravalli said two weeks ago.
That’s 20 percent of Karlsson’s $11.5 million AAV for each of the next four years. The max that the Sharks can retain is 50 percent.
Seravalli went on to say that while he believed the Penguins would take on Karlsson’s contract at just 20 percent retention, they weren’t willing to give the Sharks “a haul” on top of that.
It doesn’t appear as if much has changed the last two weeks.
Right now, teams don’t appear to be offering a lot for Karlsson, since the Sharks aren’t willing to take on a lot of his contract.
So if the San Jose Sharks want a lot back for Karlsson, they’re probably going to have to take on a lot more too.
On Saturday, Karlsson himself made waves when he said that he had spoken with the Penguins, Hurricanes, Seattle Kraken, and Toronto Maple Leafs, among other teams, about a potential trade.
Of course, that doesn’t mean two teams, Seattle and Toronto, have entered the Karlsson derby.
Naturally, franchises are interested in a 101-point defenseman, the reigning Norris Trophy winner. So, a conversation with a player that has a No-Movement Clause makes sense. But I don’t think they’re interested in Karlsson at just 20 percent retained. That’s the reality of a salary cap world, especially when the cap hasn’t risen significantly in three years.
However, if Sharks owner Hasso Plattner and GM Mike Grier start to budge on how much they’re willing to retain? Then maybe other teams would be willing to budge on how much they’re willing to give up? And more suitors would join the fray?
To that end, I came up with a trade proposal – pure speculation on my part – on what an Erik Karlsson trade to the Seattle Kraken could look like.
“Probably in line for what I’d want,” NHL Scout #1 said of my proposal.
“Sounds okay,” said Scout #2.
Remember, this proposal is completely speculative.
To Seattle Kraken:
Erik Karlsson ($6.9 million AAV for four more years)
40 percent retention ($4.6 million AAV for four more years)
To San Jose Sharks:
Kraken’s 2024 first-round pick (lottery-protected)
Justin Schultz ($3 million AAV for one more year)
Chris Driedger ($3.5 million AAV for one more year)
Better of Kraken’s 2024 third-round picks (Seattle or Toronto)
It’s worth noting that both Driedger and Schultz have 10-team No-Trade Clauses. We don’t know if the San Jose Sharks are included on their lists or not.
At the moment, the Kraken’s books are among the cleanest in the NHL. They’ve already got a complete-looking squad, coming off the franchise’s first-ever playoff appearance, and under the cap. They haven’t used any of their salary retention slots, haven’t bought anybody out yet, and aren’t saddled with a lot of bad contracts.
But Karlsson raises their ceiling – they lost in the second round to the Dallas Stars last year – and could spearhead an enviable one-two offensive attack from the blueline with Vince Dunn.
In fact, speaking to Seattle’s roster balance, Dunn, just inked to a four-year, $29.4 million ($7.35 million AAV), is the first player in franchise history to eclipse a $6 million AAV.
Anyway, to fit in Karlsson at $6.9 million AAV, they’re going to have to part with their one eyesore contract in Driedger.
A hot commodity when he was selected from the Florida Panthers in the expansion draft, Driedger has been unable to build on that momentum, and appears to be thought of as the organization’s No. 3 goalie right now.
I see the 2024 third-rounder as San Jose’s reward for taking on the 29-year-old netminder’s money. He could also have some use as a veteran No. 3 goalie insurance policy a la Aaron Dell.
While Driedger is a cap dump, Schultz is not. The 33-year-old blueliner is still an offensive force, putting up 34 points in 73 games this past season. He was behind Dunn on the power play.
“Schultz can play as a No. 4 [defenseman],” Scout #1 told SJHN.
So at $3 million AAV, he’s an excellent value. But he’s also a UFA after this coming campaign and becomes a luxury in a Karlsson-Dunn team-up scenario.
For the San Jose Sharks, Schultz could easily be flipped at the Trade Deadline for maybe a third-rounder.
Meanwhile, Ryker Evans, 21, fits the mold of older, closer to NHL-ready defensive prospects that Grier has been accumulating via trade recently a la Shakir Mukhamadullin, Nikita Okhotiuk, and Henry Thrun, all 21 or older.
The 6-foot-0 left-hander is a credible prospect, thought to have the potential to be a No. 4 defenseman.
“He’s an offensive guy who I think is going to be able to play that role in the NHL,” Scout #2 predicted.
So in terms of value, that’s a lottery-protected first-rounder, a solid but unspectacular defensive prospect in Evans, and a perhaps third-round value (Schultz) for a massive contract risk but true game-changer in Karlsson.
Seattle clearly comes out as a better team.
“[Brian] Dumoulin would pair well with Karlsson,” Scout #1 added.
And San Jose gets, not a haul, but adds some solid pieces to their rebuild.
The Sharks just have to be willing to retain a lot more than they’ve been willing to.
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