By Curtis Pashelka
SAN JOSE – Erik Karlsson did not wish to speculate Thursday about his long-term future with the Sharks, saying he remains committed to the team after general manager Mike Grier said earlier this week he would consider trade offers for the two-time Norris Trophy winner.
Grier said after the general managers’ meeting in Toronto on Tuesday that he would be open to listening to offers for Karlsson, recognizing also that the Sharks defenseman has a full no-movement clause throughout his lengthy contract with full veto powers over any potential trade.
Asked Thursday if he could see a scenario where he would consider waiving that clause, Karlsson said, “whenever that or if that question ever arises, it’s going to be between me and (Grier), and that’s that.
“So there’s no point in me even thinking about that or speculating about that. I’m fully invested here at the moment.”
Karlsson’s eight-year, $92 million deal, which expires after the 2026-27 season, is just one of the numerous barriers to any potential trade.
Karlsson’s deal carries an average annual value of $11.5 million, a near-impossible number for any NHL team to absorb right now without certain caveats. The Sharks would likely have to retain some of Karlsson’s salary, involve a third team to reduce the AAV or take back another hefty contract in return.
The NHL presently has an $82.5 million salary cap, which is expected to rise only marginally next season.
The deal also has to work for the Sharks, who could use salary cap flexibility, but also want to be back in the hunt for a playoff spot sooner rather than later.
“I’ll listen, but ultimately it’s also going to be up to Erik,” Grier said. “He has a no-trade clause and he has control over what he wants to do.”
The Sharks have missed the playoffs for three straight years and Grier, hired in July, has full autonomy to reshape the team to his liking, both on the ice and from a salary cap perspective. San Jose had a 6-9-3 record before Thursday’s game with the Detroit Red Wings, although the team was coming off a 3-1-0 road trip.
”He’s a dynamic player,” Grier said of Karlsson. “For me, he’s probably one of the three best offensive defensemen in the league, and he excels for us. He did everything we asked for in terms of preparation, training, and playing. He is fantastic.
“So there could be a scenario where a team asks about him because I think he can be a difference maker. He’s the kind of player who can win you a game — or a series, for that matter — so something might happen. We will see.”
Karlsson said he understands why Grier is open to moving him.
“I understand (Grier’s) comments,” Karlsson said. “He’s got an open mindset about everything regarding here, and he should. We haven’t been a good hockey team for a long time, and that’s the way it goes. I’m just lucky that I come from a place (Ottawa) where these (kinds of reports happen) on a regular basis, so I don’t read too much into it.
“I’ll let you guys debate and talk about it and whatnot. I’m just getting ready to play every game.”
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said Wednesday on The Jeff Marek Show on Sportsnet radio that he believed some trade discussion had occurred regarding Karlsson between the Sharks and Ottawa Senators.
Karlsson, 32, became a franchise icon with the Senators through his nine seasons with the team from 2009 to 2018. His wife, Melinda, is from the area and their family has a home in the region.
“I know he is happy right now,” Grier said of Karlsson. “He is happy in San Jose. His family is happy there. And we are delighted with the way he is playing.”
For his part, Sharks coach David Quinn said he isn’t paying much mind to Grier’s comments or the trade rumors surrounding Karlsson.
“If you ask most general managers about the potential of moving a player, the question usually after that is ‘Well, who are you offering me?’” Quinn said. “(Grier) and I haven’t had one conversation about moving any of these players and (we) talk every day.
“I get everybody’s questions to Mike. Why are you thinking of what you’re thinking about? I haven’t spent any time on it. I know Erik’s in a good spot. He’s playing great hockey and we’re lucky to have him.”
Per Friedman, trade talks between the Sharks and Senators went nowhere as Karlsson’s cap hit was just too large. Ottawa, too, considers such young, up-and-coming players like Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle, and Josh Norris, the Sharks’ first-round pick in 2017, off limits in any deal.
Karlsson’s 24 points in 18 games before Thursday’s game with the Red Wings led all NHL defensemen. The only other NHL defenseman in the last 30 seasons with 24 or more points through 18 games was Washington’s John Carlson, who had 28 points in 2019-20.
“I’ll let you guys debate, talk about what it is and whatnot,” Karlsson said of the speculation. “I’m just getting ready to play every game. Tonight, we’re playing the Detroit Red Wings, and that’s all that I worry about. That’s all I should worry about.”
Karlsson said he and Grier, who retired in 2011 after a 14-year NHL career, have established a positive working relationship.
“First and foremost, Grier’s a good guy. He played the game fairly recently and I think he understands the situation that we’re in and what we care about as players and what we value,” Karlsson said. “I think he’s done a really good job with how he’s conducted himself and the way that he speaks. He says some things but he doesn’t say a lot. He’s been observing and that’s the position that he needed to take.
“So far, I think he’s done a great job, not only with me but with everybody in this entire organization. I think he’s going to benefit from the things he decided to do.”
Source: Paradise Post