Explaining Sharks’ go back in blockbuster Karlsson business

Explaining Sharks’ return in blockbuster Karlsson trade at the start gave the impression on NBC Sports Bay Area

I see the Erik Karlsson trade in as two trades for the Sharks.

There’s the business of simply Karlsson himself to the Pittsburgh Penguins, together with all his upside and luggage. He’s the reigning Norris Trophy winner, however he’s additionally 33, injury-prone, has 4 years left on a killer $11.5 million AAV agreement, and hasn’t been persistently stunning for lots of the utmost half-decade.

Next, there’s the trade in for all the unfavorable contracts the Sharks gained in go back. From Pittsburgh, two years of Mikael Granlund at $5 million AAV and two years of Jan Rutta at $2.75 million AAV. From the Montreal Canadiens, one generation of Mike Hoffman at $4.5 million AAV.

In some way, the Sharks didn’t get anything else again for Karlsson, year additionally conserving 13 p.c of his residue agreement — $1.5 million AAV.

That sounds insane – the Pens additionally despatched a 2024 first-round select, top-10 safe, to the Sharks. But when we’re being truthful, that top rate select was once simply as a lot for taking up Granlund, Rutta, and Hoffman’s tricky do business in, if no longer extra so.

When compared, the Chicago Blackhawks gained a 2026 second-rounder from the Unused York Islanders sooner than the 2023 NHL Draft to take in Josh Bailey’s agreement — one generation at $5 million AAV.

Era a possible first-round lottery select is a sunny bauble, I believe as though normal supervisor Mike Grier and proprietor Hasso Plattner left one thing at the desk right here — no less than for Karlsson.

The way to that was once easy plethora: If the Sharks had retained extra of Karlsson’s agreement, they’re prone to have fasten extra again for the person himself. They might’ve retained up to 50 p.c, $5.75 million AAV, on his trade in.

Grier showed although this afternoon. “It’s something we didn’t really want to do,” he mentioned.

Smartly, it’s no longer my cash!

“Having some cap flexibility and financial flexibility was really important for us going forward,” Grier added.

Credit to the Sharks, they did achieve that, retaining a lot less than some pundits, including yours truly, expected them to. Plus they now own a premium asset, even if it’s not directly for Karlsson.

But shades of the Vegas Golden Knights trading 2021 Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury for Mikael Hakkarainen a couple summers ago — that’s what Karlsson’s trade value was. His trade value also could have plummeted once again with an injury or a decline in performance, so the Sharks headed that off.

Anyway, back to the cap flexibility. Funny enough, while the Sharks are taking on more AAV than Karlsson’s $11.5 million this coming season, $12.25 million between Granlund, Hoffman, and Rutta, they’ll start to see significant cap savings for the 2025-26 season and beyond.

The obvious question: What’s the point of all this cap space? A lot of people don’t think the Sharks will be competitive by then.

But perhaps Grier and Plattner think otherwise.

“It’s important for us to be able to have the flexibility to go out and acquire players, either in free agency or through trades, whenever these situations kind of pop up where there’s a good player available. I think we’ll be at the point where we’ll have the resources both with the money and assets to maybe get involved to try and acquire those types of players,” Grier shared about the cap flexibility that the Sharks are opening up three years from now.

More assets could come via center-winger Granlund, winger Hoffman, and defenseman Rutta, all still useful players, even if they’re also 30-something’s not quite in their primes anymore. They’re potentially flippable for middle-round draft picks over the next two seasons.

Cap flexibility sooner than later also dovetails with Grier’s recent focus on acquiring older, closer to NHL-ready prospects like early 20-somethings Fabian Zetterlund, Shakir Mukhamadullin, Henry Thrun, and Nikita Okhotiuk.

“I don’t know if they’re tied together completely,” the GM offered. “I think just sometimes, when you are acquiring these players that are just a little further along in their development curve, you have a little bit better idea of what they may become, where they are, and you can kind of project them a little bit better than if you are still trying to acquire those 18, 19-year-old kids.”

Regardless, by 2025-26, the Sharks will have figured out if Mukhamadullin and company, along with other top prospects like William Eklund and Will Smith are really worth building their franchise around.

So there is a plan here: Cap flexibility sooner and more NHL-ready prospects could put the Sharks closer to the playoff hunt than expected. Let’s see what San Jose does with all this cap space in a couple years. That’s when we’ll truly be able to evaluate this trade.

It’s not as simple as the Sharks didn’t get much back for the Norris Trophy winner. Think about the negative value that Karlsson had last summer. His essentially even value now is a win.

“We’ve started to replenish the prospect pool with last year’s Draft, and then, the trades we’ve made, the prospects we’ve brought in,” Grier said after trading star winger Timo Meier in February. “It’s pushed us in the right direction, got us on the right path a little bit quicker to help us flip this thing around.”

I would argue that you could have got an extra asset or two, say a second-round pick, if you retained even a little more. Also, you still would’ve had cap flexibility if the cap goes up as expected next summer.

But wait for it — it’s not my money!

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