Could Erik Karlsson be the Edmonton Oilers’ Chris Pronger? That and more in this Q&A

Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
9 months ago
Welcome back to ̶O̶i̶l̶e̶r̶s̶ Karlssonnation!
I’ve pledged to write an article every day this week (and maybe next week, too) about Erik Karlsson and the Edmonton Oilers. Earlier this week, I looked at if Evan Bouchard should be included in a deal and which forward the Oilers should include in a deal. Today, we’re answering reader questions about Karlsson and I’ve pulled in friend of us all Cam Lewis to help out.
Zach Laing: This is such a great question. When we look at impacts on the team, I absolutely think this could be a similar move. Now, to be fair, Pronger was a guy who significantly elevated what had been a struggling team. The Oilers missed the playoffs the year prior to acquiring him and it goes without saying what he did to help elevate the Oilers.
He came into Edmonton, scoring 12 goals and 56 points in 80 regular season games, added 15 more points in 19 games in the playoffs, then bounced as quick as he could. Alas, Pronger undoubtedly made the Oilers a much, much better team.
Karlsson would take the team from a “tepid contender” to a “potential powerhouse.”
Cam Lewis: It’s difficult to imagine anybody coming in and making the difference that Chris Pronger did in 2005-06 but Erik Karlsson would undoubtedly be the biggest name the Oilers have traded for since then. Karlsson already has 73 points this season and will become the first defenceman since the 90s to break the 100-point plateau. Again, he’s a different player than Pronger, but adding a Norris Trophy player in the middle of a season would be wild.
Zach Laing: I don’t think this would happen. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are well aware of where the Oilers’ salary cap situation is, and I’d be willing to bet — especially McDavid — would be willing to leave some money on the table. I don’t think they would go to Ken Holland saying they’d love Karlsson in town without knowing what’s up money wise.
Cam Lewis: If Karlsson’s game deteriorates in the coming years it’ll likely be because of an injury, so there’s always the Long-Term Injured Reserve solution. Otherwise, the reality is they’d have to attach to some draft picks to make the cap hit go away. That’s all part of the risk.
Zach Laing: I do. Dating back to his time in Detroit, he’s taken big swings on big name players. I think back to the Chris Chelios deal that helped the Red Wings secure a third championship during their dynasty.
The Oilers’ window is now.
Cam Lewis: That’s the biggest reason I don’t see this deal happening. Holland is an old-school general manager who likes hanging onto his draft picks. He’s only traded his first-round pick once in the salary cap era and the idea of him moving multiple to add one player is difficult.
Zach Laing: It absolutely would, and it’s something the Oilers really need to take into consideration. They need to signal to McDavid and Draisaitl that they are, in fact, taking things seriously when it comes to winning a cup.
Cam Lewis: For sure. The word is that McDavid and Draisaitl spoke to Holland about going out and getting a puck-mover and Karlsson is the best one out there. There isn’t much more Holland can do to make those happy than to acquire the players they want to play with. McDavid advocated for Evander Kane last year as well and Holland made it happen.
Zach Laing: Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s about all I can think about these days. Every time I see an icing, or a puck that doesn’t make it to a forward on a stretch pass, I can’t help but imagine Karlsson out there slingin’ it around.
Cam Lewis: 
Because it would be insanely cool. Maybe my favourite highlight ever is when he made that stretch saucer pass up the ice to Mike Hoffman during the Sens’ playoff run in 2017. Just imagine the plays that Karlsson and McDavid could make together.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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