Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported today on the NHL Network that the San Jose Sharks remain steadfast in their efforts to trade reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Friedman goes on to say that the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins are the two teams that the Sharks are talking to and adds that Carolina may need to work out of a move for defenseman Brett Pesce to acquire some assets to complete a Karlsson deal.
On the Pittsburgh side of things, Josh Yohe of The Athletic wrote an article today that outlined why Erik Karlsson is the type of player that general manager Kyle Dubas needs to acquire. Yohe highlights exactly why Karlsson is the right player for the team and the situation the Penguins are currently in. While most of Yohe’s article is in defense of the Penguins acquiring the defenseman, he also adds a couple of pieces of information regarding a potential move. Yohe says that any move Pittsburgh makes for Karlsson would be complex and would involve a third team, which is no surprise given that Karlsson is owed $11.5MM annually for the next four seasons.
Friedman reported Tuesday on his 32 Thoughts Podcast that one hold-up to the potential deal was that teams wanted the Sharks to retain more of Karlsson’s cap hit. He went on to add that at the trade deadline in March San Jose was willing to retain between 18-20% of Karlsson’s cap hit to facilitate a deal. Friedman believes the Sharks will need to retain closer to 30% of the deal which would turn Karlsson into an $8MM player for the acquiring team, and should net the Sharks a better return. Something they are open to. Friedman also reported today on the NHL Network that he believes the Sharks have pursued unrestricted free-agent defenseman Matt Dumba as a possible replacement for Karlsson.
At this point, it almost feels as though the Penguins must acquire Karlsson. Not only would they block Carolina from adding Karlsson to their already stacked defensive unit, but it would help to jump-start their offence which became stale last year for long stretches. Pittsburgh feels like a team that needs a jolt as they have been unable to get out of the first round of the playoffs since 2018 and didn’t even qualify for the postseason last year. Adding a 101-point defenseman would also alleviate some of the offensive pressure off Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the rest of the Penguins’ top-6 forward group who almost single-handily carried the team last season. And while Dubas has been busy overhauling the black hole that was the Penguins’ bottom six, he still hasn’t added much in the way of offensive firepower.