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NHL Trade Rumors

Karlsson ‘Not OK’ Staying with Sharks, Trade Talks w/ ‘Many Teams’



Pittsburgh Penguins trade talk, Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks

Perhaps the Pittsburgh Penguins are at the front of the line for San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. Perhaps the Carolina Hurricanes are right behind them. However, Karlsson confirmed the NHL trade rumors and said there are many teams in that line who have done more than inquire but have gone so far as speak with him.

The defenseman probably added a little extra pressure on the San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier to get a deal done, too.

Karlsson won the Golden Puck Award, annually given to the best Swedish hockey player and awarded in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was Karlsson’s record-setting third award, and he earned it by scoring 101 points and easily winning the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.

Now Karlsson wants the chance to win more hockey games.

The NHL trade chatter, as reported by several outlets from Pittsburgh Hockey Now through Sportsnet, has confirmed the Penguins were close to acquiring him on July 1, or at least they thought they were close. The other prominent teams mentioned that day were the Seattle Kraken and Carolina Hurricanes.

Karlsson confirmed to the Swedish outlet Expressen that he’s had multiple conversations with the Penguins and president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas (and some with former teammate and current Penguins assistant GM Jason Spezza, but only as friends), though he does not have a preferred destination.

“I am open in this process. I don’t have a chosen destination. I just want the best chance to get to the best team,” Karlsson told Expressen. “Where it is, well, we’ll see. I think San Jose appreciated that I was honest with them because this is a complicated thing to go through.” 

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported the Penguins and Hurricanes had made their best offers, and all parties were waiting to see who would flinch.

In addition to the Penguins and Carolina, Karlsson added the Toronto Maple Leafs to the list of teams that have called and said many more have called, strengthening the possibility that a team beyond the Penguins or Carolina could snag the Norris winner.

“I have spoken with Seattle, yes, also some with Toronto. There have been a few more teams as well,” Karlsson said. “Yes, there is interest. Then it’s about putting everything together. That’s the hard part. We’ll see if it works out.”

Karlsson thanked the Sharks organization for opening the process to re-home the defenseman who has struggled with injuries for most of the last four seasons. He re-emerged last season with 101 points with an unquestioned primary role, but he wants to move on.

At 33 years old, Karlsson’s window to win a championship is closing. Of course, the Penguins played a role in denying him a Stanley Cup in 2017 by winning Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final in double OT over the Ottawa Senators.

Karlsson said San Jose knows his position and has been accommodating.

“No, I am not (OK staying). I like San Jose, and I like it there, but I’ve never been able to win before. I want that chance now that I’m at the end of my career,” said Karlsson. “I have been open about that with Mike (Grier) from the first day he started. He hasn’t had any problems with it. We understand each other, and we will do so regardless of what happens in the future.”

Grier may not feel additional pressure now, but opposing teams knowing Karlsson isn’t OK with staying won’t help Grier increase the trade offers. The Penguins are about $2.3 million over the salary cap and are facing Drew O’Connor’s Aug. 4 arbitration case.

Last week, sources with direct knowledge of the talks told the Hockey Now network that trying inquiries about the trade offers were “a no-fly zone.”