Erik Karlsson to Edmonton rumours is just the disease that never goes away.
Why the Oilers would even consider the Kings ransom the Sharks are asking for in exchange for a high-risk contract that is unlikely to be finished at the same high level by a player with a history of injuries I don’t know. Yes, he’s having a good season now and yes he’s a candidate for the Norris trophy this season, and yes he’s playing on a bad team and wants to come to a contender.
But what about the other four seasons he’s under contract for? Karlsson already has a lot of hard miles on his body, and he’ll be 36 by the time the contract ends, with a good chance it’ll bottom out by the time he’s 34 or 35.
And that’s not even getting into the cap gymnastics the Oilers would have to perform to even afford 25% of his $11.5 million cap hit, having to trade further high draft picks to another team in exchange for keeping $2.875 million of cap space for this season plus four after that. Good luck trying to convince another team to take that on – Arizona might, but that’s the only team I can think of that would even consider it.
Anyway, the initial story was that San Jose hadn’t heard about the Oilers interest in Karlsson, now Frank Seravalli has changed the narrative and is reporting that the Sharks offered Karlsson to us with – who else – Jesse Puljujarvi as the centrepiece coming back to San Jose, but the Oilers said no.
I know this is the silly season, but I really wish professional sportswriters would think before publishing this kind of bird droppings for content.
If Karlsson was a must-have for every other team around the NHL, he would’ve already been traded by now. The fact that he remains in San Jose probably indicates several factors to consider:
1) In the age of young players ruling the roost, most teams are probably a bit nervous by the fact that Karlsson is 32. A lot of teams have been burned by trading for high $$ figure contracts for players on the wrong side of 30 – ask Vancouver Canucks GM Patrik Allvin if he’d like to go back in time to yell at Jim Benning for making that trade for Oliver Ekman-Larsson right about now, as just one example. GMs have likely learned their lessons and don’t bite on this as much as they used to.
2) The NHL is hurting for cap space post-pandemic right now. Most of the teams who have the cap space to take on Erik Karlsson are rebuilding teams that Karlsson wouldn’t want to play on, and very few of the contending teams would have the cap space to take him on. The only playoff-contending team with cap space to take on this massive contract – even at 50% retained – would be Buffalo. Winnipeg might be interested too, but even then they only have $2 million in cap space and would have to unload one of Josh Morrisey, Nate Schmidt, or Neal Pionk to make the cap work. If I were to guess I’d say they probably feel the same as the rest of the league – too much long-term risk in the player to trade for him.
3) In this day and age, depth is king in the NHL. A big fish that you bring in trade or free agency isn’t necessarily going to move the needle for you. The NHL is not the NBA, where a big name can transform your team overnight. The teams that go the furthest in the playoffs are the teams that have good scoring and team defence in the forward ranks and on D as well as two goalies capable of playing, not to mention good prospects to taxi in case of injuries. This means rather than going big game hunting in trade or free agency it often makes more sense to stick with what you have instead of spending huge cap space $$ or emptying the prospect coffers for a player.
The Vegas Golden Knights are the perfect example of this. Look at all the big game players they’ve landed in trade or free agency, and yet what has it got them? A single-cup appearance in their entire four-plus year history. They’re hurting hard from the depth they’ve had to trade away because of this, have only won two of their last 10 games, and at this point look more likely to miss the playoffs than to make them.
4) San Jose is asking for too much in trade for the player. Yes, I get that GM Mike Grier is probably trying to cash in on the season Karlsson is having now, but he doesn’t seem to realize that for his counterparts across the NHL, it’s not that simple. They have to consider the long term as well as the short term, and in the long term Karlsson is a risk that could alter a franchise’s direction negatively. He needs to read the market and lower his asking price to get more teams interested.
5) GMs who are easily fleeced in a trade like Peter Chiarelli and Jim Benning are no longer employed as GMs for apparent reasons.