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Quinn, Sharks Players Talk About Losing Karlsson

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

“You can’t replace Erik Karlsson.”

Logan Couture isn’t going to pretend otherwise.

“He’s a one-of-a-kind player, he does special things on the ice that not many, maybe Cale Makar is the other one that can do some of the stuff that he does on the ice,” the San Jose Sharks captain told the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast last week.

That’s a sentiment that his teammates agreed with.

“I hate to see him go,” Nico Sturm told San Jose Hockey Now. “We lose a Norris defenseman with a 100-point season.”

“Offensively impossible to replace a player like him,” Kaapo Kahkonen echoed.

“The year he had last year speaks for itself,” San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn said. “He did everything he could do on and off the ice to make us a better organization. We’re gonna miss him.”

Like Quinn said, the Sharks will also miss Karlsson off the ice. The star defenseman has been a mainstay in teal since the Ottawa Senators traded him to San Jose in Sept. 2018. Only Couture, Tomas Hertl, Kevin Labanc, and Radim Simek remain from that 2018-19 Western Conference Finals squad.

“Always sad to see a friend get traded, but I wish him and his family all the best,” Labanc shared. “It’s the hard reality of our business, but hockey is a small world – so it’s never goodbye, always see you later.”

“I got along well with him and it’s always tough to see people like that going,” Kahkonen said.

But the San Jose Sharks knew that Karlsson was leaving, getting their goodbyes out of the way a while ago.

“I think we all saw this one coming this summer so everyone kind of got to say their goodbyes and wish him luck,” Karlsson’s ex-defensive partner Nikolai Knyzhov said.

“It was almost inevitable. For a couple months, everyone figured it was going to happen,” Couture acknowledged. “I know that Erik badly wanted it to happen, and the Sharks were going to try their best to get it done.”

The San Jose Sharks traded Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins a week ago, in a three-team trade that also involved the Montreal Canadiens. San Jose got back Pittsburgh’s 2024 first-round pick, Mikael Granlund, Jan Rutta, and Mike Hoffman.

But regardless, Karlsson’s ex-teammates will be pulling for him.

“I’m happy for him that he’s in a situation where he can pursue his ultimate goal,” Quinn said, “which is to win the Stanley Cup.”

“Karl most definitely deserves a shot at the Cup, and this trade might give him the opportunity to do just that,” Sturm noted.

“I honestly hope he keeps playing great and putting up crazy points like he did last season, just not when he plays against us,” Knyzhov laughed.

“Mike [Grier] did a very good job doing what he did,” Couture offered. “He gave Erik a chance to go play for a contender, so he did right by him. He got some players that can step in and help us next year.”

Speaking of those players? Karlsson may be irreplaceable, but the San Jose Sharks will have to try.

“Other guys are gonna have to step up. It’s as cliche as it can be, but there’s going to be more icetime to go around, there’s going to be power play time, there’s going to be penalty kill time for the guys in the back-end,” Couture said. “I’m sure those guys are looking forward to the opportunity to get a chance to play more minutes.”

“Obviously, you don’t replace him with one guy. I know that may be a little cliche, but you just don’t. There’s just not any Erik Karlssons in the league, there’s only one of Erik Karlsson,” Quinn indicated. “So obviously, our power play in general has to collectively be better, not just one guy, whoever does assume his responsibility. Everybody’s got to be better on a power play next year.

“We’ve got to do a better job as a group, not only our six defensemen, but as a team, our transition has to be a little bit better, our breakouts have to be better, everybody’s just gonna be better. That’s the only way that you’re able to replace someone of that magnitude.”

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