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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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  • TKB2677

    I think the Karlsson talk needs to be put to bed. Leon is a hell of a player and is a #1 center on pretty much every NHL team except maybe 4 or 5 teams yet people already complain about Leon and his 8.5 mill being too much and screwing their cap. How on earth can anyone justify Karlsson and a salary that will be 9 or 10 mill?
    Plus what’s the cost to get him. Are you sending out so many assets you end up with McDavid, Karlsson and not much else?

    • The Future Never Comes

      Complete waste of time, this is fantasy land talk. If were going to talk pure nonsensical speculation, than maybe they would take Lucic and Sekera in return for Karlsson!!! Wouldn’t that be dandy.

      • Osmosis_jones

        Here’s the deal – Karlsson for Nuge, Klefbom and the 1st pick. If Ryan has to come the other way, we send Sekera and some other salary dump like Montoya. That evens out the money and gives us the greatest offensive defenseman since Paul Coffey in his prime.

    • Arfguy

      FFS thank you for saying that. Any conversation about Karlsson would basically involve players like RNH, Draisaitl, Klefbom, Nurse, etc. going the other way.

  • ubermiguel

    Current contract ends in a year? Will probably get $10mill/year after that? I suggest we run screaming in the other direction. I’ve said it before, I don’t think we can trade our way out of the problem Chiarelli has traded us into. Draft, develop, sign veteran wingers on the cheap, don’t get cute with trades.

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • Finnaggled

    Why would ottowa want to pay leon his 8.5 mil if they dont want to pay the leagues best dman 10? Not going to happen. He’ll end up in vegas with bobby ryan

  • Oil Vice

    Not worth it. I’m not convinced that he’ll be able to reach the same level as we’d expect him to and it would take too many of our limited number of tradable assets. Oilers are always forced to overpay, combined with the desperation that Chiarelli is bound to operate with, it could be catastrophic to the long term development of this team.

    • 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?

  • 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.

  • Rama Lama

    Absolutely nothing……..price is too high! Given PC’s track record I suspect he would offer the whole team, and then try and convince us it’s what the market is dictating.

    I say keep the pick, draft well and make the trade later when we have a real GM.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I have already been through this on the various hockey forums and the offers are of course anywhere from not enough to ridiculous from the Oilers standpoint but if we acquired Karlsson and he agreed to sign long term if we did, then the Sens would have every right to ask for the moon and stars in return. I could easily see them getting this year’s and next year’s 1st rounders as well as Nurse, or likely from the Oilers side, Klefbom, especially if we sign Karlsson to likely $10 mil/per like he’d likely want? But I don’t want the guy for just one year.

    • crabman

      I think that is exactly what it would cost the Oilers to get Karlsson. The thought of him feeding passes to our forwards is intriguing and if he was signed at $10M or less that would be a reasonable trade for someone of his skill. But this could only work if the Oilers weren’t tied to Russell and Sekera and their NMC. It is possible to move 1 or both of them after next year but no guarantee. If Klefbom, and his $4.17M, was moved out 1 of the Sekera or Russell would play 2LD and the other would need to be moved and replaced with a $1Mish bottom pair LD to even try and squeeze Karlsson in under the cap. Not impossible but with so many varying factors I’d pass on that trade.

  • Spydyr

    Only way it works is if you get permission to talk to him and his agent and get a multi year deal in place. I can’t see that happening.

    Revisit it again at the trade deadline if you are making the playoffs and he is still available.

  • Jerri Kurli

    Tempting but I’d steer clear. The numbers don’t work and at his age he’s not worth giving up your beat young assets for. The only trades I would be trying to do is lose expensive contracts like Sekera and Lucic, and bring in young inexpensive talent. Keep drafting, keep developing…… you can’t cut corners to build a champion.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • socaldave

    If Karlsson had more than 75% of an ankle left, maybe, and I mean MAYBE I’d think about putting together something for him. He’s past his best by date.

      • 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.

  • CMG30

    It’s always worthwhile to go hard on top players. As long as there is reasonable belief that he would resign here then everyone except mcdavid would be available

  • McRaj

    Reading the comments on here is too funny. Maybe people don’t realize how good EK is. he Has 6 elite seasons left in him. EK is going to go down as a top 10, likely top 5 all time D man. Draft and develop? Yeah that has worked out so damn well. I have full faith that EK would re-sign here. Sens want cheap players and draft picks. Puju, Nurse, and next year’s first round pick. Get the deal done, EK is that good. Find a way to get rid of Sekera, Russ, and Lucic afterwards. Get the deal done. A top 4 of EK, Klef, Larsson, and one of sekera/russ will be fine.

    • The Whispererer

      No one disagrees about EK’s quality.
      If you were talking about a trade on or after July 1st when he can be signed to a long term deal i believe you would see a substantially different trend in the comments.

      • McRaj

        I am operating under the assumption that EK would be re-signed. Looking at comments here, many people would refuse to pay a price for even a signed EK. That is what concerns me about our fan base. One year of EK? Sure, I agree that is too steep a price to pay. But 6 seasons of elite EK, heck yeah.

        • Moneyball

          90%+ of the time the team the player goes to sign him long term. This would be no different. Anybody with any hockey iq would move pieces to get Karlsson. The sens owner wants to shavesalary and I can’t blame him with the team going tot he conference finals and having a barren stadium. I think he wants to make some money rather than win the cup. Time to put forward an offer.

          • The Whispererer

            90% ? OK then. I don’t have access to that level of statistics so i’ll have to take your word for it. Just like i have to take EK’s public statements at face value when he said he intends to wait until 2019 to test free agency and the sole determining factor in his decision where to play will be the highest bidder.

        • FutureGM

          Don’t assume. There is no reason to do that deal without first talking to player & agent and having a deal in place before trading. Term is the biggest thing for me.
          I agree the Drai is a no starter is absurd, gotta move good players to get great ones.

      • crabman

        @sintaxi, If Karlsson puts together another 5 or 6 elite offensive seasons. He absolutely puts himself in the top all time conversation. He already has 2 Norris trophies and could add a few more before he is done. If he could add a cup or 2 it would be no doubt top 5 all time. He is already a guarantee 1st ballot hall of famer and he is only 27.

        • crabman

          let me rephrase, not #1 all time. In the conversation as one of the best all time. He is already the most offensively dynamic defenceman of his generation and has years of prime left in him.

      • 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.