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Erik Karlsson Moving to the Maple Leafs: Probably Won’t Happen

What are the chances that Erik Karlsson will move to the Toronto Maple Leafs? Probably not very high. But could it happen? Yes.

If you are an NHL franchise and want a solid offensive defenseman on your team, there’s one on the market: that’s the San Jose Sharks’ Erik Karlsson.

How good is Karlsson? He’s the reigning Norris Trophy winner. And, he’s on the move because he would like to play somewhere other than the Sharks. Who blames him?

At his advanced hockey age, he’s not in the mood for a rebuild. He’d like to win, and the Sharks are far from ready.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Samsonov, Tavares & Karlsson

Karlsson Would Be a Great Fit in Toronto, But

The reports are that Karlsson has spoken to several teams, including the Maple Leafs. Fans can only imagine the possibility of his wearing blue and white; and, while I suppose that is always possible, it’s highly unlikely. The road to such a deal is loaded with obstacles.

In an interview with hockey reporter Adam Johansson from Expressen, Karlsson shared his openness to being traded. He also shared that the Maple Leafs were one of the teams he had spoken to this summer. However, there were other interested parties — which included the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Seattle Kraken, and the Carolina Hurricanes.

Erik Karlsson William Nylander Maple Leafs Sharks trade rumors
Erik Karlsson William Nylander Maple Leafs Sharks trade rumors

The Hurdles in Pulling Karlsson to the Maple Leafs

Getting Karlsson in a trade would be significant. It would also almost immediately turn the team into a Stanley Cup favorite. However, there are challenges.

The biggest hurdle is the salary cap. Karlsson’s contract is hefty at $11.5 million. If he were to come to the Maple Leafs, the Sharks would likely need to retain a huge chunk of his salary to make the deal financially viable. Additionally, the Maple Leafs might have to move a marquee player – think William Nylander – to make the pieces fit together.

These recent Karlsson trade rumors are really old stuff for the Maple Leafs. The team has been linked to him for some time. However, they’re linked to every player who comes on the market it seems. However, in this case, there is competition out there for Karlsson’s services, as there should be.

The Penguins and the Hurricanes are in the mix for his services – and probably the frontrunners. Both these teams are likely in a better financial position to pursue the star defenseman than the Maple Leafs.

Related: If Only the Maple Leafs Studs Would Choose the Red Pill

The Jason Spezza Factor

An interesting part of the story is that Karlsson keeps in close communication with his former teammate, Jason Spezza. And, Spezza is now working with the Penguins. Could the bond between the two play a role in shaping Karlsson’s decision about where to land?

Jason Spezza Maple Leafs 1
Jason Spezza former Maple Leafs player and AGM

The San Jose Sharks are rebuilding. However, that doesn’t mean that their general manager, Mike Grier, is going to lose Karlsson for nothing. So far, Grier has been patient.

He’ll likely work to ensure that the Sharks receive adequate compensation if they part ways with their star defenseman.

The Bottom Line

The truth is that the Maple Leafs are probably not serious contenders for Karlsson’s services. However, trades are complex and there’s always a chance that it might happen.

There are also ways of dumping a part of the financial barrier that could allow Karlsson to fit under the salary cap. But are the Maple Leafs inclined to move heaven and earth to bring this great player to their team? We’ll see.

But Maple Leafs’ fans should probably not hold their breath.

Related: Look Out Rick Vaive, Auston Matthews Is After You Again



  1. gcmgome

    July 24, 2023 at 7:34 am

    Never has so much ado been made about nothing. It’s easy to imagine how Karlsson’s conversation with the Leafs went:
    Karlsson: “I can see myself taking on a prominent role with your team.”
    Leafs: “Sorry, but we just signed a right shooting, offense first defender with a horrible plus/minus at a fraction of your cost.”
    Karlsson: “Okay then….but I will vaguely refer to this conversation as a bargaining ploy with other teams.”
    Leafs: “Whatever.”

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