This past summer has been the saga of where Erik Karlsson will end up next. First it was a done deal Karlsson, star blue-liner from the Ottawa Senators, would come to Vegas. Then it was reported he was on his way to Dallas. The next day, it was to Tampa Bay. A couple of months have gone by, and not a whole lot has happened. It seems as though everyone got annoyed of the “done deal” reports and it not happening. However, let’s start up the speculations again because yep, this is back.
On HockeyBuzz.com, Kevin Allen from USA Today said on a podcast a few days ago something that has the hockey world rabbling once again. “The conclusion of several general managers is that the Karlsson deal will get done in the next few days.” When pressed further about who are possible suitors for Karlsson, he cited San Jose, Vancouver, and Vegas are in the mix. Of course, nothing has happened since.
So assuming that THIS report is credible and is not going to get our hopes up, let’s examine each team’s chance of getting Karlsson.
San Jose fought hard but came up short in the western conference semi-finals to Vegas. The Sharks have about $4.3 million in cap space according to the site “Cap Friendly,” and Karlsson’s current contract sits at around $6.5 million so they would have to move some of their current big contracts with them. With the Sharks signing Evander Kane to a long term deal, this seams very difficult to do without losing a significant amount of solid NHL ready players. Overall, if they somehow do work out a deal, it will give San Jose the top two offensive scoring defensemen in the western conference (along with Brent Burns). Yikes.
Anything can happen in this league but this seems like a very difficult trade to get done, and unless San Jose throws significant NHL talent plus draft picks, it’s hard to say this is a feasible trade.
The Canucks are in a rebuilding mode. With young, talented players like Brock Boesser and Bo Horvat getting their feet wet in the league, they have a promising future in a few years? Which is exactly why it does not make a whole lot of sense to rush that process. Vancouver’s cap space sits at around $9.2 million, the most friendly of the three forementioned pacific division teams. Remember that Erik Karlsson still has one more year remaining on his contract, so any team would be potentially trading the kitchen sink for a player who may not re-sign with them at the end of the season. It is a risky move for any team.
Even if Karlsson wants to go to Vancouver, they are still a ways off from being at the top of the pacific. They have some solid young players, but they have rocky goaltending and unproven core of forwards that remain young. That’s under the assumption that someone like Horvat, or Jake Virtanen don’t get traded to Ottawa for Karlsson, too.
Vegas Golden Knights
Obviously we are a little biased, but Vegas makes the most sense. Vegas is competitive, like the Sharks, and has cap space like the Canucks. Their cap space sits around $8.6 million, and have signed a couple of their big guns to long term deals. While this is enough to cover the cap space hit to get Karlsson, it is important to note that Vegas will still most likely want to sign William Karlsson (no relation) to a long term contract when his contract expires next year.
Furthermore, Vegas also has the ability to take on the Bobby Ryan contract, which interests Ottawa. The 31-year-old winger hasn’t had a 30-plus goal season since his days in Anaheim back in 2011-2012. He has battled injuries almost his whole career in Ottawa, and has a whopping $7.25 million dollar cap hit and is signed through the 2021-2022 season. That is A LOT of money for someone who only put 11 goals in the net last season in 62 games.
However, if the Knights go on and take that deal, that almost certainly softens the blow on who Vegas would give up. If they didn’t take on the Bobby Ryan contract, they would almost certainly trade a combination of Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, Nick Suzuki, Cody Glass, or Erik Bransstrom. That is a lot of talent to give up, considering it is not a sure deal Erik Karlsson re-signs with VGK. Although to add to the drama, it is interesting to note the only RFA to not re-sign with the Golden Knights this offseason? Shea Theodore. Could GM George McPhee be using him as trade bait? The plot thickens.
We will see if this speculation turns into fruition over the next few days, until then, get your popcorn ready for the millionth time this rumor has been reported. It will probably all be worth the waiting if Erik Karlsson does come to Vegas.