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Kyle Dubas Still Pursuing Erik Karlsson in Trade for the Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins remain in heavy pursuit of Erik Karlsson, but navigating salary cap poses challenges in their bid.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of the teams rumored to have set their sights on acquiring defenseman Erik Karlsson, the three-time Norris Trophy winner. Buzz has been strong over the past few days and the whispers started getting louder when Elliotte Friedman’s comments on NHL Network suggested that the Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes are the final contenders for Karlsson’s services. The Hurricanes have more cap room than the Penguins, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Kyle Dubas, he tends to find a way.

Recent reports now suggest the Seattle Kraken explored the possibility, but have bowed out of the race. And, Dubas has openly acknowledged the team’s interest in players of Karlsson’s caliber. He noted, “When there’s a player like that who becomes available, especially with a core group (like this), I think it’s incumbent on me to reach out and see if there’s a fit for us. That’s the way I viewed that entire situation.”

Despite recent signings on the defensive front, Dubas reportedly continues to pursue Karlsson. One of the significant reasons for their interest lies in Karlsson’s potential to revitalize the team’s underachieving power play, which has struggled for quite some time. Karlsson’s arrival would provide the Penguins with a reliable point man, known for his exceptional distribution and playmaking abilities. His presence would greatly benefit the team’s zone entries and enhance the overall performance of the power play unit.

Is This A Two-Horse Race? And, Are the Penguins Really In It?

According to David Pagnotta, the race for Karlsson is primarily between the Penguins and the Hurricanes. However, the Penguins would likely need to trade defenseman Jeff Petry to facilitate the acquisition, and/or they would need to take advantage of the new buyout window that opened when Drew O’Connor filed for arbitration on Wednesday.

Kyle Dubas Penguins Erik Karlsson trade rumors
Kyle Dubas Penguins Erik Karlsson trade rumors

Rob Rossi of The Athletic writes:

By filing for arbitration Wednesday, O’Connor unlocked a new window for the Penguins to buy out a player currently on their roster. If he so chooses, president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas could clear cap space by essentially paying a player to go away.

He added, that the Penguins did shop Petry to other clubs during the week of the NHL Draft in Nashville and that there were rumblings of a possible three-way trade. If Dubas is able to manage all of that, Pagnotta also notes that the San Jose Sharks are reportedly seeking three or four significant assets in return.

The major obstacle for any team vying for Karlsson’s services is navigating the complex salary cap situation. For the Penguins, it’s especially complicated. The Sharks have indicated their unwillingness to retain more than $3 to $4 million of Karlsson’s $11 million cap hit. This would leave the acquiring team responsible for shouldering around $8 to $9 million of his salary.

The coming days will provide further clarity on whether the Penguins can successfully navigate these complexities and secure the services of the elite defenseman.

Next: Holland Knows Oilers Will “Pay The Price At Some Point In Time”

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  1. Pingback: Fair Value or Too Much?: Kings Sign Anze Kopitar $7M Per Season

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