It's been a difficult season for the San Jose Sharks. They missed the playoffs for the third straight season, a messy falling-out with Evander Kane has them in the midst of a contract termination grievance hearing with the 30-year-old winger, and long-time general manager Doug Wilson stepped down for health reasons.
With the search for Wilson's replacement ongoing, there's speculation the Sharks could attempt to move Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns.
On Saturday, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the Sharks appeared to have “very preliminary” trade talks regarding the 31-year-old Karlsson and a couple of teams earlier this year. While those discussions didn't get far, Friedman believes the club realizes their cap constraints mean they cannot afford the luxury of carrying “two elite Norris trophy-winning right-shot defensemen.”
NBC Sports Bay Area's Sheng Peng observed last week that there were rumors last summer about Burns being open to being traded to a contender. He also pointed out the 37-year-old defenseman did little to silence that conjecture during his end-of-season interview.
The Sharks are squeezed for cap space with $76.8 million invested in 21 players for 2022-23 and restricted free agents Mario Ferraro and Kaapo Kahkonen to re-sign. It could shrink further depending on the outcome of Kane's grievance hearing. They must also look ahead to next summer when Timo Meier becomes an RFA with arbitration rights.
Karlsson is in the third season of an eight-year deal with an $11.5-million salary-cap hit and a full no-movement clause. Burns, meanwhile, carries an $8-million annual cap hit for three more seasons with a three-team trade list.
Finding someone to take either blueliner off their hands won't be easy. The Sharks could be forced to retain part of their salary-cap hit or take a toxic contract back in return.