NHL Rumor Mill – March 8, 2023
NHL Rumor Mill – March 8, 2023
Were the Sharks close to moving Erik Karlsson at the trade deadline? Will the Blue Jackets have another busy off-season? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
WERE THE SHARKS CLOSE TO TRADING ERIK KARLSSON?
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng recently reported Sharks general manager Mike Grier said there were various times throughout this season when he’d had trade talks with different teams regarding Erik Karlsson.
Grier indicated that there was lots of interest in the 32-year-old defenseman. However, he said the discussions never got to the point where he felt they were close to getting something for Karlsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grier was referring to what he felt would be a worthwhile return for Karlsson, who has matched his career-high of 82 points and leads all defensemen this season in scoring.
The Karlsson trade rumors have faded away now that the trade deadline has passed. However, I expect they’ll resurface in the offseason, especially in late June heading toward the draft. That’s typically when players of his magnitude get traded.
Karlsson’s $11.5 million cap hit through 2026-27 and full no-movement clause still won’t be easy to move, especially if the salary cap only rises by $1 million for next season. Nevertheless, I’m not dismissing the possibility given the high level of interest in him this season.
Grier also mentioned he would spend the remainder of this season evaluating his goaltending. He wants to see if Kaapo Kahkonen or James Reimer can show they’re capable of being the Sharks’ full-time starter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The focus will be on the 26-year-old Kahkonen. He was acquired from the Minnesota Wild by Grier’s predecessor at last year’s trade deadline.
Reimer, 34, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Grier attempted to trade him at Friday’s deadline but couldn’t find a suitable destination for him once Joonas Korpisalo and Jonathan Quick were traded.
BLUE JACKETS COULD FACE ANOTHER BUSY OFFSEASON
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline pointed out that the Columbus Blue Jackets have one of the youngest rosters in the NHL. He believes they could benefit from veteran leadership that knows how to win and would hold players accountable, pointing out the departure in recent years of veterans such as Nick Foligno, David Savard, Seth Jones, Jakub Voracek and Cam Atkinson.
Portzline also believes the Blue Jackets need to make a trade or a free-agent signing this summer to bolster their blueline after trading Vladislav Gavrikov last week. GM Jarmo Kekalainen anticipates being able to add to his roster this summer as cap-strapped clubs are forced to shed salary through trades or letting players depart via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen will be shopping around to improve his defense and leadership core this summer. Finding the right players for the right deal is crucial. They got a superstar in winger Johnny Gaudreau below market value last summer but also garnered criticism for signing defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a four-year, $16-million deal.