NHL Rumor Mill – August 5, 2023
Is it possible for the Sharks to terminate Erik Karlsson’s contract? What’s the latest on the Bruins? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
COULD THE SHARKS TERMINATE KARLSSON’S CONTRACT?
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng wondered if it would be feasible for the San Jose Sharks and Erik Karlsson to mutually terminate his contract. With an $11.5 million average annual value over the next four seasons, it is difficult for interested clubs to acquire the 33-year-old with the salary cap flattened for 2023-24.
Under that scenario, the Sharks would be completely off the hook from Karlsson’s contract. Meanwhile, the three-time Norris Trophy winner would become an unrestricted free agent and able to pick wherever he wants to play.
Peng acknowledged it sounds ludicrous that Karlsson would walk away from the remainder of his current contract. Even if he did, he wouldn’t accept a cut in pay. However, Peng pointed out that Karlsson’s contract is front-loaded, meaning he’s already received the bulk of his $92 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peng admits this is a wild hypothetical. He spoke with two agents about it who considered it possible but also unlikely.
Sure, it’s possible. However, I don’t believe the Sharks are entertaining that notion nor do I believe Karlsson would agree to it.
The Sharks are trying to trade Karlsson. They’re reportedly willing to retain part of his average annual value to make it happen though they’re said to be unwilling to go too far past 20 percent.
There is some speculation suggesting the Pittsburgh Penguins might attempt to finalize a trade for Karlsson should they use their current 48-hour buyout window to shed a contract. That would make it possible to acquire the blueliner and remain cap compliant.
We’ll find out by Sunday evening if that’s the case.
LATEST ON THE BRUINS
THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Fluto Shinzawa was asked where the Boston Bruins can find a suitable replacement for retired captain Patrice Bergeron. He believes it’ll be up to Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha for the time being or maybe Matthew Poitras becomes a top-two center.
One reader took note of the rumors linking the Bruins to Elias Lindholm. However, Shinzawa points to a lack of a 2024 first-round pick, the shallowness of their prospect pool and limited salary-cap space hampers any efforts to pry the 28-year-old center away from the Calgary Flames. However, he believes Lindholm would be high on the Bruins’ list if he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Asked why the Bruins kept their goaltending tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, Shinzawa said they believe it will be their position of strength to remain competitive this season. Regarding the possibility of trading Brad Marchand, he also sees that move as making the Bruins less competitive this season.
Shinzawa doesn’t believe a full roster rebuild is imminent. He points to their two high-end goalies in Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman plus foundational players such as David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm.
Asked about whether Jake DeBrusk will be re-signed or traded, Shinzawa suggests that could depend on the club’s performance this season. He thinks it would be hard to see DeBrusk getting moved if they’re in playoff contention by the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins could surprise us by making a dollar-in, dollar-out deal to boost their depth at center. However, based on the factors cited by Shinzawa, it seems likely that their current roster is the one we’ll see from them on opening night in October.
We won’t see the same level of dominance from the Bruins this season that we saw in 2022-23. They should remain a competitive playoff contender if their core players remain healthy this season. Management will probably look toward next summer to bolster their roster when they have more cap space to work with.