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REPORT: Sharks, Sens Have Talked Karlsson Trade Back to Ottawa

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Could Erik Karlsson return to the city that he’s called his “forever home”?

“I think those conversations have happened between the Sharks and the Senators, I believe the two teams have talked about it,” Elliotte Friedman said on the Jeff Marek Show today.

In Sept. 2018, the Ottawa Senators traded the two-time Norris Trophy winner with prospect Francis Perron to the San Jose Sharks for Dylan DeMelo, Chris Tierney, prospects Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers, a 2019 second-round pick (Jamieson Rees), a 2020 first-round pick (Tim Stutzle), and a 2021 second-round pick (Zach Ostapchuk).

After the 2018-19 season, the Sharks re-signed Karlsson to an eight-year, $92 million dollar contract.

Karlsson, however, has never hidden his affection for his first NHL city – the Senators drafted him in the first round in 2008 – and he and his family still own a home in Ottawa.

In the midst of a comeback campaign for Karlsson, who leads all NHL defensemen in both goals and points, San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier admitted yesterday that he was willing to listen to trade offers for his star defenseman.

REPORT: Grier Says He’ll ‘Listen’ to Trade Offers for Karlsson

This doesn’t make a deal likely or inevitable though: There aren’t many, and maybe there aren’t any teams that would want to absorb the 32-year-old’s remaining contract, four more years after this season with an $11.5 million dollar AAV.

According to Friedman, the Senators aren’t likely to be able to take on Karlsson’s contract, even if the Sharks were to retain the maximum 50 percent on it: “I just don’t know if it’s going to be possible. What I heard was it’s just not going to be cap possible.”

Marek and Friedman believe Stutzle, Norris, Brady Tkachuk, Jake Sanderson, Shane Pinto, Alex DeBrincat, and Artem Zub would be off-limits in any Karlsson trade, the future combined cost of such a core being another road block to a potential San Jose-Ottawa accord.

On the San Jose Sharks’ side, it’s hard to figure out a reason for them to retain that much of Karlsson’s remaining money, unless the veteran blueliner absolutely wanted out. Using the Brent Burns trade as a model, Grier seems willing to accommodate his veterans’ desires, as long as it still helps the Sharks.

“I just looked at the landscape with the Senators, who they won’t want to trade, where their financial commitments are going to be, and I just don’t know how it works,” Friedman offered. “I’m not saying it won’t happen. It’s unlikely to happen. I just think the road map, even if the cap goes up the way that the Commissioner has hinted, I think the road map is extremely difficult to making that work.”

Gary Bettman has suggested that the cap could go up another $4 million dollars next year. The salary cap is currently $82.5 million.

Karlsson, also, has a no-movement clause in his contract. The Sharks can try to trade him anywhere that they want, but it’s entirely up to Karlsson whether he stays or goes.

The assumption is the Swedish star would welcome a return to his adopted home – his wife Melinda is also from Ottawa – but as Friedman outlined, it’s hard to see how the math works for the Senators.

I’m not sure how it works for the Sharks either.

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