Question: Do the San Jose Sharks have a legitimate chance at trading for Ottawa Senators Defenseman Erik Karlsson?
That’s it. End of article. But since I have a minimum word count to meet, allow me to tell you why the San Jose Sharks still have a shot at this. It will not be easy to acquire a player of Karlsson’s caliber, especially with the rumors swirling that the Vancouver Canucks are interested.
Karlsson is the best defenseman of his generation, and good for 60 points minimum. Like, in a bad year. No team in their right mind would trade a guy like that. Only, the team he plays for isn’t in their right mind, because Erik Karlsson plays for the dumpster fire that is the Ottawa Senators. (Sorrey to our friends over at SenShot.)
Ottawa doesn’t have a choice but to trade Karlsson at this point. He has one year left on his 7 year 7.5 million dollar deal which he signed in 2012. And he isn’t returning to the Canadian Capital. Probably under any circumstances. Karlsson is going to command John Tavares money (to start) in free agency, which Ottawa, who is notoriously cheap, isn’t going to pay. He’s hitting the market and teams are going to line up for his services. But not without Ottawa getting something in return first….Right?
Unfortunately for the Sens, their leverage is drying up. Yes, the best player at his position in a generation commands a large return. But teams know he’s not coming back to Ottawa, and are putting themselves in a position to wait-it-out. His return may not be as heavy as people think.
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That is where Doug Wilson and the San Jose Sharks come in.
This isn’t going to be an easy deal a la Evander Kane. Where they gave only up a conditional first round pick in 2019, a lower level prospect in Danny O’Reagan, and a 2020 fourth rounder.
The Sharks here are working without said first round pick, and while their farm system is better than it was last year, they’d still have a way to go in matching a team like Vancouver, or the Dallas Stars in terms of prospect depth.
What the San Jose Sharks do have working for them are some younger NHL pieces, an interesting pair of prospects in Ryan Merkley and Josh Norris and one of the more shrewd General Managers in the league. Doug Wilson has done more with less. See: Joe Thornton. Also the fact that San Jose has a great dressing room with plenty of professionals who want to be there is a bigger deal than people think among the players.
Karlsson could technically veto any trade with his modified No Trade Clause in his contract, and Vancouver might not be the destination desired. Karlsson can also just say he’s not going to sign with the team that trades for him, driving his price down, and his leverage up. There is the rumor going around that Karlsson will not sign an extension with any Canadian team. Although, he’s denied said rumor.
This is where Wilson does his best work. He uses the players leverage and his own against bad teams like Ottawa, or Buffalo. That player is on the last year of his deal, and isn’t going to return. He’s also going to veto any deal to a team in which he doesn’t want to play and just walk at the end of the year. Allowing Doug Wilson to ride in on his white horse and rescue that player from the depths of oblivion.
The San Jose Sharks are really good, and are going to be really good for at least the next few years. Yet they consistently remain one piece away from a Stanley Cup. They could be one of the few teams Karlsson would allow himself to play for, and to re-sign with. Wilson could use that leverage to acquire him for less value than EK65 would normally command a la Kane and Thornton before him.
Don’t get me wrong. It is still going to cost the San Jose Sharks to go out and get The Swedish Bobby Orr. But can they do it without giving up Meier and Hertl? Maybe. Once teams are whittled down to only a few choices then all bets are off. The acquiring team holds all the leverage.
Trading for Erik Karlsson would be long shot. I don’t think the San Jose Sharks are the front-runners for him at all. But it is getting close to zero hour for Ottawa. With each day that goes by their leverage gets lower and lower. They have to get SOMETHING for him. They cannot just let him walk. They can try to wait on a desperate team at the deadline, but will it be too late by then? Would teams, offer less to the Senators figuring he’s just going to walk at the end of the year anyway?
Doug Wilson and the San Jose Sharks may not be the leaders in the clubhouse right now for Karlsson’s services, but Wilson has done it before. Can he do it again?