NHL Rumors

Report: Karlsson, Sharks ‘really want' offseason trade


The Sharks didn't trade defenseman Erik Karlsson during the 2022-23 NHL season, but that could change this summer.

The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported Friday that Sharks management and Karlsson's representatives at Newport Sports met at the recently completed NHL Draft Combine, and the two sides are in agreement that a trade needs to happen.

LeBrun reported that the Sharks "really want" to move the likely Norris Trophy winner, and Karlsson "really wants" to play for a team that has a chance to win games.

LeBrun called the exploration of a trade by the Sharks a "proactive endeavor" and noted that Karlsson is going to be "open-minded."

Karlsson just completed the fourth year of an eight-year, $92 million contract, meaning he is owed $46 million over the next four seasons.

The elite defenseman, who finished with a career-high 101 points last season, has a full no-movement clause, so he can control which team he is traded to.

LeBrun also reported that several teams already have "kicked the tires" on a Karlsson trade, so it might not take long for the Sharks to find a team willing to acquire the 33-year-old.

But Karlsson's enormous contract won't make a trade easy to complete. In order to facilitate a deal, the Sharks likely would have to retain some of his annual salary, but the amount could be a sticking point. Per LeBrun, San Jose general manager Mike Grier would like to retain roughly $2 million, but interested teams only want to take on $8 million or $8.5 million in salary.

The Sharks are coming off one of the worst 82-game seasons in franchise history, finishing with a 22-44-16 record, good for 60 points. And the rebuilding process under Grier is expected to take several seasons, which is why trading Karlsson for future assets makes the most sense.

During his exit interview with reporters in April, Karlsson danced around questions about a possible trade, but he made it clear his top priority is winning games.

"I think I’ve been pretty open about that since all this started, that you know, I do want to win," Karlsson told reporters, via San Jose Hockey Now's Sheng Peng. "I do feel like I still have it in me to help a team achieve that.

"At the same time, I do enjoy it here. I like it here. I always have. We’ll see where it all lines up. Those are things that are kind of not in my hands.

"I’m never going to shy away from the fact that I play this game to win. That’s always going to be my No. 1 priority. We’ll see where it goes, but I know that things here are going in the right direction. I know that the future is going to be really good here. When that is, we can’t predict that, unfortunately, and those are things that I don’t really control and can’t do very much about right now."

The Sharks held on to Karlsson three months ago, but they clearly have changed their tune and soon could be shipping the four-time NHL All-Star to a contender.

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