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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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