The San Jose Sharks are among “several teams” that have discussed trades involving superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson with the Ottawa Senators, reports The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun. He expressed skepticism that there’s a match and said San Jose was merely “doing due diligence,” but it’s another team to add to the mix before the trade deadline.
Karlsson remains the biggest fish available for teams as a franchise defenseman who could be a game-changer in another city. The Senators have admitted to being open to trading him, given he’s an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but they don’t necessarily need to deal him now because the move could always happen in the summer.
That’s led to a bidding war between teams jockeying to acquire Karlsson’s services for this stretch run in addition to next season. The cost will undoubtedly be massive, as it’s rare for a player of his caliber to hit the market.
One of the ways that a team could lessen how much it needs to give up is to take on the contract of forward Bobby Ryan, who has a $7.25 million cap hit through 2021-22. The Senators are reportedly trying to package those deals together in order to get Ryan’s contract off their books, which would save millions in real money in addition to cap space.
But any deal involving that much money may be difficult to make during the season, so it remains to be seen whether the Senators will hold firm on that request. While it’s unclear how serious they are about including Ryan in any Karlsson trade at this point, any team acquiring those two would need to have a ton of salary cap space.
That’s where the Sharks are interesting because they already have over $4.7 million in cap space available right now, per Cap Friendly. Based on the complications calculations for accrued cap space, they could take on a lot more than that at the trade deadline.
So that makes San Jose an intriguing fit for a Karlsson/Ryan package, although this will surely be a complicated trade no matter how it comes to fruition.
With all that said, the addition of Karlsson would be scary for the rest of the Pacific Division. The Sharks could roll a top four of Karlsson, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Justin Braun, which would have to go up against the other 30 defenses as one of the best in the league. They’d immediately become top contenders in the West.