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Is There A Market For Erik Karlsson?

Erik Karlsson is off to the best start of his NHL career. Might San Jose use this chance to trade him and his $11.5 million annual salary?
Erik Karlsson

A recent report by TSN's Pierre LeBrun indicating the San Jose Sharks are willing to listen to trade offers has some pundits wondering about Erik Karlsson's future.

Now in his 14th NHL season, Karlsson is off to the best start of his career. Entering this weekend, the 32-year-old leads all NHL defensemen with 10 goals and 18 points and sits among the league's top scorers.

Karlsson's red-hot performance had the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran suggesting Karlsson “looks like he's auditioning for a trade.” He also pointed out that the puck-moving rearguard has five years left on his contract with an average annual value of $11.5 million.

Nevertheless, McGran wondered if the Sharks would retain half of Karlsson's cap hit and perhaps accept a player earning over $5.6 million as part of the return. His colleague Nick Kypreos also wondered if the Sharks would retain “40 or 50 percent” of his salary, suggesting there isn't a contender in the league that Karlsson couldn't help.

Sharks GM Mike Grier already shipped out one expensive defenseman by sending Brent Burns to the Carolina Hurricanes in July. The 37-year-old Burns, however, has a less burdensome cap hit ($8 million) for a shorter period (through 2024-25) plus he's been healthier than Karlsson in recent years. The Sharks also retained just $2.72 million of Burns' cap hit.

Grier might not be keen to carry up to $5.75 million in dead cap space through 2027 when Karlsson's contract expires unless a rival club offers up incentives like first-round draft picks and promising young prospects. That's assuming, of course, Karlsson agrees to waive his no-movement clause.

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