Erik Karlsson Trade

How Sharks made Karlsson trade with Penguins, Canadiens work

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The Erik Karlsson trade chatter persisted for weeks before the Sharks worked out a three-team deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, looking to strike an agreement that would best benefit San Jose.

But the Sharks faced an uphill battle in finding a team that would take on a majority of Karlsson's remaining salary, with the star defenseman under contract through the 2026-27 NHL season at an average annual value of $11.5 million. In the end, San Jose was able to retain just $1.5 million -- or 13 percent -- of Karlsson's salary per year by including a third team in negotiations.

First, let's break down the three-team trade.

The Sharks dealt Karlsson, Dillon Hamaliuk and their 2026 third-round draft pick to the Penguins in exchange for Mikael Granlund, Jan Rutta and a 2024 first-round pick. Mike Hoffman also was sent to the Sharks, whom the Penguins acquired from the Canadiens.

Pittsburgh also acquired Rem Pitlick from Montreal in the deal, sending Jeff Petry, Casey DeSmith, Nathan Legare and a second-round pick in 2025 to the Canadiens while also taking on 25 percent of Petry's salary.

The Penguins got the star defenseman they've reportedly been negotiating to obtain for weeks, and the Sharks were able to unload a majority of Karlsson's salary while acquiring a first-round pick. The Canadiens had plenty of reasons to join in on the trade, as explained by Sportsnet's Eric Engels.

Early reports amid the Sharks' trade discussions implied San Jose would need to eat more than 20 percent of Karlsson's remaining salary per year if the team wanted to move him. And before the 2023 NHL Draft, Sharks general manager Mike Grier told reporters people thought they would eat 50 percent of Karlsson's salary, noting that "probably" wasn't going to happen.

With that in mind, the Sharks ending up with a deal that requires them to retain just 13 percent of Karlsson's contract seems like a huge win for the organization as they look to continue their rebuild. Karlsson waived his no-trade clause to go to Pittsburgh, meaning the move is one he finds beneficial as well as he looks to hoist the Stanley Cup next season.

And it worked for all sides involved, too.

The trade helped the Penguins clear an additional $3.1 million in cap space while the Canadiens took on an additional $887,500, per CapFriendly. But, according to Engels, it's a deal Montreal believes will help them in the long run with a chance to make more moves along the way.

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