Despite all efforts in the 2022-23 season, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t be as terrible as they wanted to be to get Connor Bedard. The San Jose Sharks would have Erik Karlsson on their roster, posting his first career 100-point season, which did affect their ability to tank, lacking better terms.
The Erik Karlsson trade isn’t what San Jose wanted but in reality of the NHL salary cap, the San Jose Sharks and general manager Mike Grier couldn’t get three first-round picks and two decent NHL-level prospects. The San Jose Sharks would have to settle on a trade for far less in return than what they had given up nearly five years ago when they acquired the Norris trophy defenseman via trade. Take a look at how Inside The Rink writer Conrad Jack grades both trades and compares them to each other.
September 13th, 2018: Karlsson Is Traded To San Jose
When Karlsson was traded to San Jose, the future was promising for the steadily competitive team and constantly pushing for the playoffs. Many would argue that the trade that sent Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks actually set the Sharks back multiple years, but San Jose would only compete in the playoffs with Karlsson once.
Karlsson would be traded alongside Francis Perron to the San Jose Sharks for a complete haul of a trade return. The Sharks would give up Dylan DeMelo, Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Joshua Norris, a 2020 first-round pick (third overall – Tim Stutzle), a 2021 second-round pick (39th overall – Zack Ostapchuk), and a 2019 second-round pick (44th overall – Jamieson Rees).
Related: Erik Karlsson Might Be Overrated
Without a second thought, Ottawa won the trade from when the return was announced to how it played out nearly five years later.
Grading The First Erik Karlsson Trade:
The first Erik Karlsson trade is admittedly lopsided, especially with who Ottawa managed to draft with the picks. Take a look at how I would grade both Ottawa and San Jose in this trade.
Ottawa Senators Trade Grade: A+
San Jose Sharks Trade Grade: C+
While it may be slightly easy to give San Jose a lesser grade, they got a Norris Trophy and a 100-point season out of Karlsson’s tenure as a Shark. Doug Wilson also gave Karlsson a $5 million pay raise on a contract that isn’t great. Eight years and an average annual value of $11.5 million a season with a full no-movement clause made it seem like an anchor of a contract, even if the cap skyrocketed.
August 6th, 2023: Karlsson Is Traded To Pittsburgh
A few seasons ago, it seemed nearly impossible if the San Jose Sharks could even consider moving this contract alongside a serious sweetener. Even then, that could potentially be too much of a risk for any team to consider giving San Jose a hand. Another point for consideration is the fact that Doug Wilson gave Karlsson a full no-movement clause throughout the entirety of the contract.
Then, around the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, rumors started to appear that Erik Karlsson was available for trade. To make matters worse, Mike Grier was adamant that any team that wanted to acquire Erik Karlsson would likely have to give up multiple first-round picks and prospects.
The trade deadline then passed, and now the offseason was here; it was slowly sounding like Mike Grier’s insane asking price was getting more reasonable. August 6th rolled around, and Kyle Dubas, recently named the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, made the impossible happen. Erik Karlsson is a Pittsburgh Penguin, and there was a ton of salary cap shenanigans involved to make it happen.
Montreal would re-acquire Jeff Petry with 25% retention, acquiring Casey DeSmith, Nathan Legare, and a 2025 second-round pick, all from Pittsburgh. San Jose would acquire Mike Hoffman from Montreal; San Jose would also acquire Mikael Granlund, Jan Rutta, and a conditional 2024 first-round pick (top-10 protected) from Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh would get Rem Pitlick from Montreal; Pittsburgh also acquired Erik Karlsson with 13% retention, Dillon Hamaliuk, and a 2026 third-round pick. Pittsburgh also managed to clear just under $3.2 million in cap space in this entire trade.
Grading The Second Erik Karlsson Trade:
This second Erik Karlsson trade is more straightforward on every team; each team involved moved things around and made it work with their salary cap situations. To top it all off, there wasn’t anything super lopsided going a certain way.
San Jose Sharks Trade Grade: A
Montreal Canadiens Trade Grade: B
Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Grade: A-
I would give Montreal an A, but they were essentially a salary broker in this trade. Secondly, the Montreal Canadiens re-acquired Jeff Petry and took a goaltender in the trade, and do the Canadiens need another goaltender right now? San Jose got themselves out of a contract that seemed unmovable years ago, and they can now start to rebuild with more pieces coming in and out over the next few years.
How Does Each Trade Compare?
The first observation you can make is that it’s as if the first trade was considered and then spread among three teams in the second trade. The comparisons are slim, as San Jose needed to capitalize on moving Karlsson before the regular season while he’s fresh off of a Norris trophy and a 100-point season.
Related: Erik Karlsson Stats
Karlsson is a shell of his former self, and I admittedly don’t see him getting anywhere close to a 100-point season. I think the main factor was that San Jose was in tank mode, and then Karlsson just completely stole the show and was their only point producer throughout the 2022-23 season.
While I have reserved my opinion on Erik Karlsson, I think Pittsburgh can play him in the correct role alongside Kris Letang, Ryan Graves, and the rest of their defense core. When you consider everything done, the Pittsburgh Penguins want to remain competitive as long as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are still around. If the Penguins can win a Stanley Cup once more with their core, the trade can be considered a success.