As if it wasn’t evident enough before today, the San Jose Sharks are officially all in.
After signing Evander Kane to a seven year contract extension in May, San Jose shocked the hockey world by making a huge splash trading for elite defenseman Erik Karlsson. Karlsson, 28, has widely been known as one of the league’s best defensemen and will now join an already stacked Sharks’ defensive core.
Karlsson was drafted 15th overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and accumulated 126 goals and 518 points in 627 games, along with winning two Norris Trophies as the league’s best defenseman (2011-12 and 2014-15). As one of the league’s best offensive defensemen you would think that Senators’ General Manager Pierre Dorion would be asking for the world when it came to his team’s franchise player. However, with the team entering a rebuild and rumors around Karlsson’s departure for months, Sharks’ General Manager Doug Wilson was able to acquire the defenseman for what most are calling a underwhelming return.
Karlsson, along with Francis Perron, were traded to San Jose for Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, Rudolfs Balcers, Josh Norris, a conditional second round pick in 2019 and a conditional first round pick in 2020. Now Tierney and DeMelo are fine players that will likely play on the Senators’ roster next season along with Balcers and Norris being good prospects, but that still doesn’t add up as a good return for one of the best defensemen of this generation. Also, Ottawa chose to give away their 2019 first round pick to the Colorado Avalanche, as part of the Matt Duchene deal, and keep this years first round pick to draft Brady Tkachuk 4th overall. San Jose didn’t even have a first round pick in 2019 to give to Ottawa in the Karlsson deal, thus leaving the Senators with no first round pick and no Erik Karlsson. Along with this, the conditions for the two picks that San Jose gave up are incredibly…..interesting.
Conditions on the two picks pic.twitter.com/1GqoejxyuX
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 13, 2018
To be completely honest, Doug Wilson looks like a genius on this trade. Even though acquiring Karlsson doesn’t include a contract extension on his that expires at the end of the 2018-19 season, landing Karlsson immediately puts the Sharks as a favorite to contend for the Stanley Cup.
Last season San Jose was one of the better teams defensively, finishing the season 9th in the top 10 of least goals allowed (226). By adding Karlsson to the mix, their defense is even better and thus allows head coach Peter DeBoer to likely have one of Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson or Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the ice at all times. Couple this with the Sharks’ already potent offense and this team is a heavy favorite to go all the way in the Western Conference.
Doug Wilson left no stone unturned when it came to improving his team and trying to give them the extra push the Sharks need to help them get back to the Stanley Cup Finals and capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. When the team needed additional scoring Wilson went out and traded for Evander Kane, only giving two picks and a prospect for the high goal scoring winger. Impressed by what he saw during Kane’s stint in San Jose, he signed the 27 year old to a seven year extension. When John Tavares began speaking with other teams leading up to free agency, Wilson rolled out the red carpet and the Sharks reportedly offered Tavares an annual salary upwards of $13 million. Ultimately Tavares chose to take less money and play for his childhood team, but many analysts believed that the Sharks were one of Tavares’ best bets if he didn’t remain with the New York Islanders. After trade rumors have circled around Karlsson for months, Wilson pulled the trigger and landed one of the best defensemen in the NHL today for virtually peanuts. Wilson has also commented saying that when acquiring Karlsson he has the intent of signing him long-term.
Surely no surprise, but Doug Wilson wants to lock down Erik Karlsson. “Yes, it’s a longterm approach. We think Erik fits with us now and for a long time,” Wilson said on conference call #SJSharks
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) September 13, 2018
If Karlsson re-signs for multiple years, this will give San Jose the core of Burns, Vlasic, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl for at least the next half decade and I would put money on Thornton re-upping for much less than his current $5 million if Karlsson decides to stick around.
The Sharks have been one of the best regular season teams for the last decade making the playoffs 13 out of the last 14 seasons. However, they’ve only made it the Stanley Cup Finals once in 2016 ultimately falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins. By locking up the team’s core long-term and Wilson showing he’s not afraid to make big trades, San Jose is not only a serious contender for the Stanley Cup this season, but they’re all in for many years to come.