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WWYDW: How hard would you go to acquire Erik Karlsson?

Imagine a team with Connor McDavid and Erik Karlsson. Just think about it.

Seriously, it might take a few moments to clear your mind and allow yourself to visualize it because it seems so far-fetched, but once you’re there, it’s borderline erotic.

It’s no mystery that Karlsson’s days in Ottawa are numbered. The two-time-but-should-be-four-or-five-time Norris Trophy winner is set to hit unrestricted free agency on July 1, 2019 for the first time in his career.

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Eugene Melnyk, the owner of the Sens, doesn’t want to dish out the cash it’s going to cost to keep the league’s best defenceman in Ottawa. I mean, hell, Melnyk was at a point in February in which he apparently spazzed out at Karlsson because he owed him $350 for an Uber trip. If he’s stressing about $350, imagine how he’ll respond when Karlsson’s agent rolls in with a contract demand worth more than $10 million annually.

The Sens had a disastrous season in 2017-18 much like the Oilers did. They came within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup Final, went into the off-season with the swagger of a legitimate contender, leaned so far into it that they paid an obscene price for Matt Duchene, subsequently imploded, and then blew the team up, dealing away Derrick Brassard and Dion Phaneuf prior to the deadline. Next up is inevitably going to be Karlsson.

We know the Oilers need a right-handed defenceman who can produce offence. How about the best offensive defenceman of this generation by a damn country mile who also happens to have a right-handed shot? Sure!

Okay, so we’ve established that…

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  • The Sens don’t want to pay Karlsson and want to recoup assets for him before letting him walk.
  • The Oilers could use Karlsson’s skills on their blueline.
  • Anything is possible if you’re willing to believe.

That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. How hard would you go to acquire Erik Karlsson? How worthwhile is the dream of McDavid and Karlsson on the same team, even if it only lasts for one year?

Karlsson currently owns a $6,500,000 cap hit for one more season. That really isn’t all that difficult to fit into your team’s salary cap spreadsheet. A bunch of other teams are going to be calling and asking for Karlsson, so the price tag isn’t going to be cheap. The Sens are going to be asking for a player who can help them right now, like Oscar Klefbom, likely Edmonton’s 10th overall pick, and probably sweeteners on top of that like Kailer Yamamoto and/or Jesse Puljujarvi. Obviously that’s a massive price to pay for a player who could very easily walk after just one season.

There might be a way to lower Karlsson’s price. Take on Bobby Ryan’s albatross contract. This is something that was floated around (and gawked at by Ottawa media) prior to the trade deadline. Like I said, Kalrsson’s $6,500,000 isn’t that much to take on especially given the fact the salary cap is set to take a pretty big jump this summer. Ryan is owed $7,250,000 for four more years and taking him on for the cheap Sens would be a massive favour.

But he won’t sign here, right? It isn’t possible, even if he wanted to form the league’s most insane duo, that the Oilers, walking the tightrope over the abyss known as Cap Hell, could manage to fit him in, right? Well, what if the deal involved sending back an $8,500,000 cap hit the other way? The Sens would surely love to do some kind of rebuild around a top centre like Leon Draisaitl, right?

So, what say you, Nation? What would you pony up to acquire Erik Karlsson? Is it worthwhile? Is the possibility of a McDavid and Karlsson duo so attractive you would sell off assets like Klefbom, Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, and more for him? Would you take on Ryan’s awful deal to make the pill easier to swallow? Could sending Draisaitl back the other way mean Karlsson could actually stick around long-term? Have I lost my mind?!? 


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      • Crazy Pedestrian

        Why the hell not? He’s only got 1 year left on his contract! Klefbom has 6 years left. And a #10 overall pick gets them another high profile d-man.
        I still probably wouldn’t do the deal cause there’s no way the oilers could re-sign him and still have enough cap left to surround the core with enough solid support. (Unless they luck out and get a coach that can unlock ELC players every 3 years)

      • RyanCoke

        Ottawa also shedding just over a mill in salary in the Lucic Ryan swap. They are in a tough position and that package seems mighty fine over losing EK for nothing. This swap would only be done for a signed EK though and it would happen after July 1st

        • The Rookie

          And Lucic would have to wave his NTC. To got to Ottawa? Doubtful. And Ottawa would get a better pkg than Klef and a pick from any other team. Especially a signed Karlsson like you suggest. Pot isn’t legal yet.

    • OilerForLife

      They would simply not take Lucic – nice try.

      Karlsson is a very good player and resigning him would be very expensive. I strongly disagree with trading Draisaitl. Hypothetically trading him, I would want more than Karlsson, and I’d be looking for a decent signed forward that would act as a stop gap until our prospects mature.

  • rivid

    Articles like this always amuse me. The oilers would be fool to trade for him. Let’s see, the price to acquire him would be rediculous. We would have to give up draft picks, our cupboard are bare and can’t do that. They would want prospects, we don’t have any significant pieces we can afford to loose. They would want roster players well, they are not taking lucic or russel and we so if we give up a nuge or Leon we are just creating another hole that needs to be filled. With all that has been said the oilers just can’t afford the cost and would cripple the team even further if the did. Stay away from a 10 million dollar dman who still has not recovered from his foot/ankle surgery. Stay the course and draft well. When they start doing that, you have assets and the farm doesn’t suffer.

    • Holy crap! 7 years of a top 30 forward + 9 years of high quality prospect for 1 season of a top defensemen who will give you 60pts. Draisaitl alone will probably score 500 pts in those 7 years. How the hell does this trade suggestion get 2 upvotes?

  • Anton CP

    The price to pay for Karlsson will end with the Oilers sucking for even longer. Karlsson will not be cheap and since he will be UFA right after the season that anyone traded for him will likely be giving up lots for nothing in return an year from now. Only those real contenders that loaded with prospects and looking for a shot at Stanley Cup can afford and use Karlsson, the Oilers are none of those. This is not even up to debate…

      • crabman

        Fitting him under the cap could be done. If say Klefbom was moved out in the deal we would only be adding $2.33M to the cap this year, which we can afford. If we could move Russell next offseason when his NMC turns into a MNTC and replace him in the bottom pair internally with Bear or Jones or with a cheap $1M bottom pair guy that frees up $3M to go towards his raise really only needing to account for another $1-3M to cover the rest of the raise and that’s covered by the salary cap rising in another year. It gets tough after that but by then Seattle has taken a player and the following year Sekera’s $5.5M contract is up and there could be another lockout and if so possibly compliance buy out option for Lucic clearing his $6M. It would be tough but running an elite core of McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge, Karlsson, and Nurse would give the Oilers an elite core and should be able to have a dominant pp. A team with that core couldn’t afford the depth of the top teams this year but with that kind of skill as long as the gm could fill the bottom 6 with good cheap role players and the odd prospect on an elc it could be done.

  • Oilman99

    Pie in the sky dreams,there is no way to even consider Karlsson unless they can figure out a way to get rid of the Lucic contract. Any other way would leave the team gutted of any usable talent to play with McD. Forget the guy,he is a cap breaker.

  • ponokanocker

    D is still a need, in my opinion. If you can get a legit #1 eating up 25min/night, I say do it.
    I think they would like Klefbom due to the long term reasonable contract. I think it would take 2 firsts/equal prospects added to get it done. This years first and Puljujarvi would be what I would include. As a #4 overall pick, Puljujarvi can hit some big bonus numbers if he can develop well, hurting our cap situation. Also, he will have to be exposed to Seattle.
    It was previously pointed out that Russell and Sekera’s contracts become more tradable after each season and they will both need to be dumped. That still leaves us with Karlsson and Nurse as depth on the left, which is very good.

  • Big Nuggets

    We’ve given enough players their big pay day contract. Now is not the time to seek out another. We need to find the next generation of defensemen, not pay a premium for players whose best days are likely behind them. Not to undersell Karsson, he’s probably the best defenseman in the league, at least offensively, but this is not how to build a dynasty. Trading Draisaitl for Karlsson would be a huge error.

  • JimmyV1965

    Any team that trades for Karlsson is doing a trade and sign. No one is giving up assets for one year of service. And the price tag will be $12 mill not $10. Having said that, I would still do the deal. Klef, the 10OV snd JP for Karlsson.

  • Braindead

    What is Klefbom or Puljujarvi to any other team? Absolutely nothing. Kelfbom only had 1 year he proven himself as a top 4 D and Puljujarvi had more going for him at the draft than now. Oilers have completely mishandled JP from the start. Burning 2 years off his ELC with minimal ice time in the NHL.
    I’ve said it before Oilers fans overvalue and exaggerated how good their players are. There is no evidence or trend that shows Klefbom is any good or JP will be a top 6 player.

  • WillyWonka

    there is no need to trade for a top flite defenseman, you can just let McDavid and Drai gain some good experience over the next couple years while you wait for draftees to turn into decent defenders… 3, 4, maybe 5 years and you can build a defense through the draft. no need to get help now, you can spare a few years of development without making the playoffs while your stars age like fine wine

  • HockeyDad

    I would not even consider the trade or propose a value unless it comes with a pre-negotiated extension. I would not waste assets on a one-year deal where he can walk at the end of a season. Then again, I am not the GM of the Oilers who makes rational trades…. (insert eye roll here).

  • TKB2677

    So let’s pretend that by magic, both Lucic and Russell agree to waive their no moves and Ottawa takes them both plus say a 1st. So the trade is Karlsson for Lucic, Russell, & a first.

    So Karlsson has 1 yr left on his 6.5 mill so the Oilers are just fine this season. But they have to resign Karlsson. Given his resume now and the fact he would probably have a good 1st season with the Oilers, I don’t see how he isn’t making at least 10 mill on a max term deal. So now you have McDavid 12.5 mill
    Leon – 8.5 mill
    Karlsson – 10 mill which by the way, Karlsson is 28 in 3 weeks.

    That is 31 mill for 3 guys. I am sure someone will go off on a hate tangent of Chia and complain about Leon making too much. So because this is fantasy, pretend Leon makes 7.5 mill. So that is 30 mill.

    So how do you ice a team when 3 guys take up almost 40% of your cap? I haven’t even mentioned that Talbot will need a new contract at the end of this season. I know there are Talbot haters in here but you still need a starting goalie. So if you let Talbot walk you have to find someone else. Talbot makes 4.16 mill. Whether you like him or hate him, that is pretty low pay for starting goaltending. So chances are you will be paying MORE for goaltending if or if not Talbot is here.

    So how do you fit Karlsson on the team at that price? Plus it’s not like you are getting Karlsson when he is 23-24, you are getting him at his peak where in all likelihood he will start declining as most guys start to decline when they hit 30 and you’d be paying him 10 mill for declining years.

    • crabman

      I’ve kind of laid out my plan in an earlier comment but here I go.again.

      *First I don’t necessarily say I would do it. Just if I did trade here is how it fits under the cap*

      Trade Klefbom +2 1st for Karlsson
      This adds $2.3M this year we can fit.

      Cap is going up for next year between $78-82M so let’s take the middle and say $80M. The following year if the players use the 5% salary escalator it brings the cap to $84M. The cap could get there naturally with league revenue or by the escalator so $84M is the cap number I’ll use.

      I think Nurse will be bridged this summer $3-3.5M × 2. I’ll use lowtide guess if $3.3M.
      Benning on a $1.5m×2.
      Signing Karlsson at $10M
      Also counting on Bear and Jones to fill out the bottom of the D depth chart on the last year of their elc.
      Russell would also need to be moved next offseason when his NMC turns into a MNTC.
      That gives a D of
      Nurse – Karlsson
      Sekera – Larsson
      Jones/Cheap Vet- Bear/Benning
      That’s a D costing around $26M

      In Goal even if Talbot has a league average or slightly better season he won’t get a massive raise. I count on $6-6.5 to cover both starter and backup. this is in the middle of the NHL range.

      On forward we still have
      McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge, Lucic(not going to be able to move that), Puljujarvi on a bridge $2-3M×2 unless he has a massive breakout year, Yamamoto on his 2nd elc year, Strome on the 2nd year of his new contract $2.75M, Khaira starting his new deal $1.5M ish(3LW or 4C), and trade Kassian and his $1.95M. that’s 8 players at $40.5-41.5M.
      total $72.5-74M with 5 forwards left to sign. A middle 6 winger the entire 4th line and a 13th forward. If an elc forward like Bennson could fill one of those roles great. It would be tight but definitely doable.
      It gets harder each year but it is too hard to project future contracts 3 years from now.

        • crabman

          And then I talk about him signed st around $10M per season. I eouldn’t trade for him without knowing he is going to sign or he was already signed. That’s if I traded for him at all. but if you bothered to actually read my entire post you would see that I said I wouldn’t necessarily trade for Karlsson at all but was answering TKB2677 question of how Karlsson could fit under the cap.

  • Ron Burgundyz

    This is an easy question. You do whatever you have to to get Karlsson, short of trading McDavid. Do people want to win another cup around here or not??

  • toprightcorner

    I wouldn’t want to trade for Karlsson, too much cap at a declining age, but if you want to see how it may be able to work out:

    Klefbom, Russell, Caleb Jones,10th for Karlsson and Ryan, OTT keeps $1.5 in cap.

    Trade Ryan and Benson to ARI for Kruger, Oilers keep $1.0 in cap (ARI has Ryan at $4.75 cap)

    Sign Karlsson at $10.5, sign Nurse long term at $4.9

    Sekera – Karlsson
    Nurse – Larsson
    Beauchemin ($1.0) – Benning

  • toprightcorner

    People need to quit dreaming about Karlsson. The Oilers are already having a tough time to find wingers they can afford, with Karlsson, the Oilers will be limited to 9 Ty Rattie’s on the team.

    I am not trading Draisaitl, who is locked up for the prime of his career, for someone who is passed their prime and will cost $3 mill more to sign.

    If the Oilers are ever going to trade for Draisaitl, they should be getting back a highend offensive top pair dman and a 20 goal RW, both under 25. An example of this would be MIN and get back Dumba and Zucker or with CAR and get back Hannifin and Lindholm.

    • crabman

      I agree. Building a fantasy hockey team for 1 year and not worrying about the future, Karlsson would look great as an Oiler. Longterm it would cause more problems with depth. But it is a WWYD article and sometimes it’s fun to just throw around some wild ideas.

  • Slipknot 8

    Try and Imagine……3 way trade.

    Oilers send Jesse Puljujarvi – Bear and Sekera (ARZ needs to take salary back) For Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Oilers complete the trade and sign OEL.
    The Oilers then flip OEL with a conditional pick in 2019 for Karlsson only if he agrees to sign long term.