NHL Rumor Mill – July 13, 2023
More Erik Karlsson trade speculation plus the latest on the Canucks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
MORE KARLSSON TRADE CHATTER
SPORTSNET: Sonny Sachdeva has the Pittsburgh Penguins sitting atop his list of five clubs linked to San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. The Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators (Karlsson’s former team) round out his list.
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports the Penguins came “extremely close” to acquiring Karlsson during the opening day of free agency on July 1. He writes that a deal was close to being completed that morning. Yohe also noted reports that have the Penguins and Hurricanes as the front-runners to acquire the three-time Norris Trophy winner.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes any trade sending Karlsson to the Penguins must include defenseman Jeff Petry and his $6.25 million average annual value going to the Sharks as part of the return. He believes there isn’t any other plausible way the Penguins can acquire another right-side defenseman and for coach Mike Sullivan to find enough ice time to justify Petry’s salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looking at the Penguins roster, prospect pool and cap space, they’re limited in what they can offer the Sharks. I agree that Petry would have to be part of the deal provided he’s willing to accept a trade to San Jose. The Sharks will want some sweeteners to be enticed into taking on Petry’s cap hit. I’m wondering if that potential July 1 trade involved a third team that might’ve fallen through because they couldn’t get the pieces and/or dollars to work.
The Oilers were reportedly interested in Karlsson leading up to the March trade deadline. However, their addition of Mattias Ekholm has likely taken them out of the bidding for the Sharks blueliner. They have over $5 million in cap space but most of that will be taken up re-signing restricted free agent Evan Bouchard unless he’s part of a package offer. Even then, I don’t think they can swing it.
Kyle Dubas was interested in Karlsson before he was fired as Maple Leafs general manager and has maintained his pursuit since joining the Penguins. I don’t think his replacement shares that interest. They’re pressed for cap space and signed right-side defenseman John Klingberg on July 1. Unless they’re willing to part with William Nylander (provided the Sharks aren’t on his 10-team no-trade list), I don’t think they can pull it off.
Of the teams on Sachdeva’s list, the Hurricanes appear to be in the best position to acquire Karlsson in terms of tradeable assets on the roster and within their prospect pipeline. Taking him on, however, would mean he or Brent Burns getting pushed down into second-pairing minutes. That might not sit well with Karlsson, who could invoke his no-movement clause to block this trade unless he’s guaranteed top-pairing ice time, which likely wouldn’t make Burns very happy.
Karlsson hasn’t dismissed the possibility of returning to Ottawa, where he began his career and still maintains a home. However, I think that chapter of his career is closed. The Senators have put their faith in their young talent and they seem averse to adding a budget-busting superstar approaching his mid-thirties.
LATEST ON THE CANUCKS
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports the Vancouver Canucks have a glut of wingers following their recent re-signing of Nils Hoglander. He believes two or three will have to go before their regular season opens on Oct. 11.
Johnston noted that sidelined winger Tanner Pearson is expected to be recovered in time for training camp. If he’s indeed healthy, he’ll push their list of wingers to nine, which is one more than they can dress for a game. That could result in one or two players being demoted or management works out a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser and Garland were fixtures in last season’s rumor mill and during the early weeks of the offseason. It could be worthwhile keeping an eye on their respective situations with the Canucks. Nevertheless, management could opt for more affordable solutions.