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NHL Notebook: Sharks trade reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson to Penguins

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Photo credit:John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
10 months ago
Kyle Dubas has made his first splash with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins have acquired reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks in a three-team trade involving the Montreal Canadiens.
Here’s the full trade along with the cap hits of the players involved…

To Pittsburgh…

  • Erik Karlsson ($10 million cap hit, $1.5 million retained by SJS)
  • Rem Pitlick (Forward from MTL, $1.1 million cap hit)
  • Dillon Hamaliuk (AHL defenceman from SJS, on entry-level contract)
  • San Jose’s third-round pick in 2026

To San Jose…

  • Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in 2024 (Top 10 protected)
  • Mikael Granlund (Forward from PIT, $5 million cap hit)
  • Jan Rutta (Defenceman from PIT, $2.75 million cap hit)
  • Mike Hoffman (Forward from MTL, $4.5 million cap hit)

To Montreal…

  • Jeff Petry ($4,687,500 cap hit, $1,562,500 retained by PIT)
  • Casey DeSmith (Goaltender from PIT, $1.8 million cap hit)
  • Nathan Legare (AHL forward from PIT, on entry-level contract)
  • San Jose’s second-round pick in 2025
The Sharks are only retaining $1.5 million per season on the remaining four years of Karlsson’s contract but the Penguins opened up the salary cap room needed for Karlsson at $10 million annually by dumping four players. San Jose took on a combined $7.75 million in Mikael Granlund and Jan Rutta while Montreal is absorbing nearly $6.5 million between Jeff Petry and Casey DeSmith.
Granlund scored only five points over 21 games for the Penguins last season and is an albatross at $5 million annually. Rutta is a fine depth defender but is overpaid at $2.75 million. DeSmith is a decent backup goalie at $1.8 million but the Penguins found a cheaper option in Alex Nedeljkovic at $1.5 million. Petry is the best player moved of the bunch but his spot on the roster is upgraded by Karlsson.
The Sharks wound up with a first-round pick and a handful of bad contracts that they might be able to flip for more picks down the road. That said, only having to retain $1.5 million annually on Karlsson’s deal is a win for San Jose considering they had virtually no leverage.
The Habs did very well for themselves in this deal. They dumped a pair of underwhelming forwards and got a quality top-four defenceman and a solid backup goaltender in return. Montreal also got a second-round pick as a thank-you for getting involved.
The Penguins are taking a huge swing to pull themselves back into contention. Kyle Dubas took over as the team’s president of hockey operations and general manager after the Pens failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since Sidney Crosby’s rookie campaign. This trade is Dubas’ first significant stamp on the organization.
Karlsson signed an eight-year, $92 million deal with the Sharks in June of 2019 and didn’t live up to his enormous salary in the first three seasons of the contract largely because of struggles with injuries. He bounced back in 2022-23 with arguably the best season of his career. Karlsson scored 101 points and became the first defenceman since Brian Leetch in 1991-92 to pass the century mark in a single season.
There’s obviously a considerable amount of risk for the Penguins given they’re taking on four years at $10 million annually of a 33-year-old with an extensive injury background but the upside is massive. Crosby is 35 years old, Kris Letang is 36, and Evgeni Malkin is 37. If Karlsson can stay healthy, he could help lift this legendary core to one final run at the Stanley Cup.

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