While the San Jose Sharks have acquired a goaltender, they’re still looking to trade their best player.
The Sharks acquired goalie Mackenzie Blackwood from the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. They’re still looking to deal Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson to a contender.
“He would like the chance to have an opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup,” general manager Mike Grier said. “I understand that and his timeline, where he is in his career, doesn’t quite match up with where we are in our process of building this thing back up.”
Grier has talked to colleagues about Karlsson since before the trade deadline this past season, but it’s a difficult maneuver to pull off. Karlsson is 33 and under contract for four more seasons at the fifth-highest cap hit in the NHL: $11.5 million.
And it won’t be a pure salary dump like some other moves made around the NHL this week, including Boston sending Taylor Hall to Chicago for the rights to two inexperienced defensemen and St. Louis getting Kevin Hayes from Philadelphia for a sixth-round pick. The price for Karlsson will be higher.
After winning the Norris on Monday night for the third time in his career, Karlsson expressed a desire to play for a team that can win the Cup.
“I still feel like I had a fantastic year and I felt good the whole way, but I feel like there’s more,” Karlsson said. “That’s what makes me excited moving forward.”
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Karlsson would be the first reigning Norris winner traded since Montreal sent Doug Harvey to the New York Rangers in 1961.
The biggest question is what it will take. After the Flyers retained half of Hayes’ salary for the next three years, Grier said he would not do that to move Karlsson.
Why? “Because it’s a lot of money?” Grier said.
“Eric’s a special player,” he added. “He’s on the path to being a Hall of Fame player. He’s healthy. I think he proved he was healthy last year. He’s a special player who drives offense like not many others in this league.”
Karlsson had 25 goals and 76 assists last season. He was the first defenseman to surpass 100 points in a season since Brian Leetch in 1991-92.
When Grier held a video call with reporters, he was not ready to comment on acquiring Blackwood, a trade that was announced not long after. San Jose sent a sixth-round pick, No. 164, to New Jersey for the 26-year-old netminder.
Blackwood was no longer in the Devils’ plans moving forward because of the presence of Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid, who helped them reach the second round of the playoffs.