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



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

NASHVILLE – Erik Karlsson loves it in San Jose.

But the San Jose Sharks are four years and running out of the playoffs, and are at the beginning of a rebuild. Meanwhile, the 33-year-old Karlsson isn’t getting any younger.

So a trade is on the way, if the Sharks can find a taker for a large portion of Karlsson’s massive remaining contract, they can get an acceptable return, and if the likely 2023 Norris Trophy winner, who has a No-Movement Clause in his deal, signs off on his new destination.

“Time is running out. I played with too many guys throughout my career, amazing players and should be winners and should have won, that never did. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to win. That’s not to say I’m going to win, right? I want an opportunity to win,” Karlsson said from Bridgestone Arena, a day before the NHL Awards. “If that opportunity is not in San Jose right now, within my timeline, that’s just the unfortunate part of business. That’s not to say that I don’t like it there. That they don’t want me there. That we don’t want this to work.

“That’s just the way it is. It makes sense for both parties.”

Time is running out, but Karlsson also understands the complexities of trading him in the era of the salary cap.

“It’s still like fairly early in conversations. I think there’s a lot of teams that want to do it, not necessarily a lot of teams that can do it,” he admitted.

For example, he could see himself with the San Jose Sharks – not unhappily – to start next year.

“Personally, yeah, would it be nice to get it done tomorrow? Yeah, of course. I have a family of four, we have a house in San Jose. It’ll be way more smoother if it gets done earlier,” Karlsson said. “But at the same time, it’s not like I’m unhappy in San Jose. I like it. My family likes it there. Our kids were born there. We’re well situated. [Joe Thornton’s] back. We’re good friends with him and his family. [Patrick Marleau’s] back. We’re good friends with him. We’re fine there.”

So Karlsson indicated that there was no timeline or deadline for a trade.

“The decision, whatever it’s going to be, whenever it gets done, it’s going to be the right one. However long that takes. It’s gonna take whatever it’s gonna take,” he said. “I hope that San Jose gets what they want. I hope that wherever I’m going, if I’m going somewhere, it’s getting what they want. I want everybody to be happy. That’s the bottom line.”

It does sound like Karlsson won’t be too strict with his NMC, which will help facilitate a deal.

“I’m very open-minded. I don’t have a preferred destination, or I think this team is the best team. There’s so many teams right now. Like you just have to make the playoffs and you have a chance to win. Look at Florida,” he noted of the eighth-seeded Stanley Cup Finalist.

It’s just about having a better chance to win.

“[Weather, taxes], nothing like that matters. I signed in California, I mean, I make great money. I pay a lot of money too,” he joked of California’s high taxes. “I’m not making that compared to what it says on the paper.”

Karlsson even told Swedish reporters here that he was open to returning to the Ottawa Senators, who haven’t made the post-season since he led them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017. But unlike the Sharks, the Sens have a bevy of young NHL-ready stars on the roster and are seen as a clear team on the rise. And of course, Karlsson, who flew into Nashville from Ottawa, still has a home there.

It’s clear that the San Jose Sharks and Karlsson are motivated to make a trade. In the end, it’s just a story of divergent timelines for GM Mike Grier, who’s at the ground floor of the Sharks’ rebuild, and Karlsson, who wants to reach the top of the NHL peak before his career is over.

“Griersy has been great. We’ve had a great communication level ever since he took over. I think he’s a very bright guy and I think he’s doing the right thing for San Jose. I love it,” Karlsson shared. “I wish I was 10 years younger, and I could be a part of it. Because that’s how good they are with the coaching staff and everybody that they put in place.

“But reality is, I’m not at that stage.”

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