NHL Rumor Mill – November 3, 2022
Could there be a trade market for the Sharks’ Erik Karlsson? Are changes coming for the struggling Blue Jackets? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
IS THERE A MARKET FOR ERIK KARLSSON?
TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran observes the San Jose Sharks are “already in selling mode”. He points out Erik Karlsson is looking like his old self as an elite puck-moving defenseman and “looks as if he’s auditioning for a trade.”
Karlsson, 32, has five years remaining on a contract with an average annual value of $11.5 million. He joked about how that cap hit would fit in with the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, he also wondered “if the Sharks could retain half…and take back someone making around $5.685 million, and a sweetener or two.”
Nick Kypreos believes there isn’t a contending team in the league that Karlsson wouldn’t dramatically help. He also mused over whether the Sharks would be open to retaining “40 to 50 percent of the remaining value of his contract”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun last week was the first to report that Sharks general manager Mike Grier was willing to listen on almost everyone on his roster with the possible exception of Tomas Hertl.
Grier has already shown a willingness to shake things up, shipping Brent Burns in July to the Carolina Hurricanes despite his $8 million annual cap hit and three-team no-trade list. If Karlsson should be open to joining a playoff contender, perhaps he’d be willing to waive his no-movement clause.
Burns, however, has only two more seasons left after this one on his contract. His cap hit is more affordable and he currently has a 688 consecutive games streak going whereas Karlsson has been plagued by injuries in recent years.
Any trade of Karlsson will come down to two factors: waiving his no-movement clause and the Sharks’ willingness to carry up to $5.75 million in dead cap space if they agree to retain up to 50 percent of his cap hit for the next five years.
LATEST ON THE BLUE JACKETS
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline recently cited the shabby state of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ blueline as a key factor in the club’s sputtering start to the season. However, he felt there are no easy answers to address the issue.
Portzline observed that volatility has been a factor. Their top-two left-side blueliners (Zach Werenski and Vladislav Gavrikov) have each had four different defense partners in the club’s first nine games.
Fixing the problem won’t be easy. The Blue Jackets are near the salary cap and top-four defensemen rarely change teams via trade and tend to be expensive in both salary and return.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wondered if the Blue Jackets would look for some help at center until their good young players are fully NHL-ready. However, he indicates there’s nothing imminent on that front.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expectations were high for the rebuilding (or is it retooling?) Blue Jackets when they finished higher than expected in last season’s standings. The signing of Johnny Gaudreau and re-signing Patrik Laine stoked excitement as well as some observers suggesting that they could even be a dark horse playoff contender.
It’s become painfully obvious they’re nowhere close to being a playoff contender. They’ve become lifeless as the losses have mounted, so much so that long-time NHL broadcaster Chico Resch called them “embarrassing” and “pathetic” during their recent 7-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
Something will have to happen if the Jackets don’t turn things around soon. If a trade can’t be found to shake things up, head coach Brad Larsen could end up losing his job.