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Friedman: Penguins Could Trade Erik Karlsson Back to Ottawa



Pittsburgh Penguins, Erik Karlsson
Pittsburgh Penguins' Erik Karlsson plays during an NHL hockey game, Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

If the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to continue selling after sending out winger Jake Guentzel at the trade deadline, moving defensemen Erik Karlsson could be on the table.

Karlsson has three seasons left on his contract, which carries an $11.5 million average annual value, and he also has a no movement clause, which could complicate the process, but Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet suggested that a swap with the Ottawa Senators could work out.

“It’s not going to be an easy one to move, it definitely isn’t,” Friedman said on his 32 Thoughts Podcast on Monday. “There is going to be a lot of focus on Ottawa. If there’s one team that you would think would consider it, it would be them with Daniel Alfredsson.”

The Senators drafted Karlsson in 2008, and he played in Ottawa from 2009-18, eventually becoming the team captain. When he first arrived in Ottawa, Alfredsson was his captain, and now the fellow Swede is an assistant coach for the Senators, making for an obvious connection.

Of course, whether the Penguins would actually be interested in continuing their purge with Karlsson is a different story. General manager Kyle Dubas suggested that he considers Karlsson to be a part of the team’s core when speaking to the media late last month, and that’s a group he said he doesn’t anticipate breaking up.

“I still believe our group is capable. There have been many times when we show that (and) there are also times when I understand why anyone would have that question. I think everyone in the room accepts that,” Dubas said.

Karlsson has not been as productive as the Penguins had hoped after acquiring him from the San Jose Sharks last fall. In 63 games, he has scored eight goals and racked up 35 assists for 43 points. In his final seasons in San Joes, he scored 25 goals and had 76 assists for 101 points in 82 games.

Karlsson has also a big part of the team’s power play, which is currently ranked fourth-least in the NHL with a 14.6% success rate.