Two Erik Karlsson Trade Proposals for the Edmonton Oilers
Photo credit:John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor9 months ago
I’ve mentioned for weeks if the Oilers were going to make a major splash at the trade deadline. Acquiring Erik Karlsson would be the biggest move.
But would it be the right move?
Karlsson is having a season an historically great season. He is fifth in league scoring with 73 points. He has 22 more points than any San Jose teammate. He leads the NHL with 47 points at 5×5, which is seven more than any other player in the league and 10 more than Connor McDavid. Karlsson is on pace for 111 points. Only five D-men in NHL history have scored 100 points and only Bobby Orr (5x) and Paul Coffey (4x) have scored more than 103 points in a season. They were each over 113 points in those nine seasons.
Will Karlsson score 100 points again? Maybe not, but he has scored 0.70 points/year in 11 of his 14 seasons and two them were his first two years in the NHL. He has scored 60+ points seven times. He has averaged 0.80+ points in nine of his 14 seasons. He averages 0.82 points/game in his career. He doesn’t need to score 100 points to be effective.
While he is lighting it up offensively, I hear many say, “But he isn’t good defensively.”
Karlson is +16 at 5×5 this year, outscoring teams 73-57. When on the ice the Sharks have outshot teams 624-528. His xGF% is 56.6% and that is with an on-ice Sv% of 89.2. Karlsson isn’t Jaccob Slavin defensively, but Slavin isn’t Karlsson offensively.
Karlsson is an elite skater, even after numerous surgeries to his ankle and calf. He moves the puck very well. He leads the NHL with 24 first assists 5×5. That is seven more than second place Leon Draisaitl. And he’s doing that on a San Jose team that, after Timo Meier, isn’t blessed with a lot of high-end offensive players.
I wouldn’t have much against the argument that Karlsson will slow down significantly over the next four seasons. It is valid to say you are leery of his injury history, which slowed him down the past two seasons. But when healthy, he, along with Cale Makar, are the two most dynamic defensemen in the NHL.
WHAT ABOUT THE COST?
Dec 4, 2022; Buffalo, New York, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) waits for the face-off during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
This is where a potential trade becomes challenging. Karlsson has an $11.5m cap hit for the remainder of this season and four more. He will be 36 when his contract expires. Elite players age much better than very good or good players, so his age isn’t a major concern for me.
The Sharks will need to retain close to 40% to make any trade feasible. Let’s go with 40% and Karlsson would be a $7m cap hit on his new team. For the Oilers to acquire him that means they need to send $7m in cap space to San Jose in the trade.
The easiest math would be Tyson Barrie and Jesse Puljujarvi (total of $7.5m). Frank Seravalli reported a few weeks ago the Sharks were looking for three first rounders in return. I don’t think they will get that along with players required to make the cap hit work unless all the players going to San Jose are UFAs.
Barrie is a legit 45-50-point defenseman. He has been the Oilers’ best right-defender this season, and arguably the Oilers’ most consistent defender all year. He has more value than just “make the cap hit work.” Barrie is also very popular in the dressing room, and Ken Holland would have to consider how a trade would impact the feel and culture of the dressing room. It isn’t the main factor, but you’d be naive to overlook the importance of a cohesive group.
For the past two seasons, I’ve read many texts to my show and comments in articles at Oilersnation how Evan Bouchard could easily replace Barrie, but will he for sure? Will Bouchard be top-7 in scoring among D-men for a decade like Barrie has been since 2013? It will be a challenge. I think some have undervalued Barrie’s skill and contributions since arriving in Edmonton. Including him in the deal for Karlsson is more about his cap hit than on-ice contributions, and if Barrie is involved it should lower the number of draft picks required because Barrie is a legit offensive defenseman.
As for Puljujarvi, does he have the most value in the eyes of the Oilers and Sharks? Maybe, but I could see Kailer Yamamoto being in the deal. From an Oilers perspective, it would free up $3.1m next season. Puljujarvi is an RFA, and unlikely to be qualified at $3m, so he’d become a free agent. Edmonton would have $6.1m to use on forwards next season, while the Sharks could prefer Yamamoto because he is under contract for a year. It depends on what they are looking for, but if I was the Oilers, I’d move Yamamoto over Puljujarvi.
That makes the salary work, so what about other assets? The Sharks won’t be getting three firsts in the deal with those two proven NHL players. The Sharks might also want a young player.
So here are two proposals. I have made two because I try to make an offer that I think the opposing GM would consider.
Trade A: Oilers trade Barrie, Yamamoto/Puljujarvi, and two firsts for Karlsson. Sharks retain 40% of Karlsson’s salary.
Trade B: Oilers trade Barrie, Yamamoto/Puljujarvi, Evan Bouchard, and a 1st rounder for Karlsson and forward Steven Lorentz. Sharks retain 40% of Karlsson’s salary.
Initially many might scoff at the addition of Bouchard. I understand it. He’s a young and up-coming D-man. It is too early to say with certainty how good he will be. But Edmonton is getting one of the most dynamic defenders in the game and not just as a rental. He is one of the best passers in the league, and with the skill among the Oilers’ top-six forwards Karlsson would be a massive addition. I think Trade A is more favourable for Edmonton, but Trade B is more realistic to occur.
Would you make either deal? Why or why not?
Recent articles from Jason Gregor