If there was any thought that the Edmonton Oilers were seriously thinking about going after defenseman Erik Karlsson in a trade before the NHL Trade Deadline, it’s time to put that wishful thinking to bed. According to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, those rumors are not true. In fact, the Oilers are so not interested in Karlsson, they would reportedly turn down one of the best hypothetical deals their franchise could make for a player they would clearly love to have.
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Seravalli spoke about a report that TSN’s Darren Dreger put out there that the Oilers might try to acquire Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks. Seravalli responded, “These are illegitimate rumors, near as I can tell them.” He adds of the Oilers’ interest, “The Sharks internally, this seemed to be news to them.”
He goes on to say that as good as Karlsson is, his contract is virtually impossible to move and holds no value around the NHL at its current dollar figure. Teams won’t be giving anything back to San Jose if salary is not retained. And, if salary were retained, the return still wouldn’t be very good.
What Is the Proposed Offer?
Seravalli then painted the picture of how little the Oilers are interested by playing a game of “Who says no?”. He noted that when it was phrased to him by a legitimate source that the Oilers and Sharks might try to work out a hypothetical deal where the Sharks retain 50% of Karlsson’s salary and move him to Edmonton for Jesse Puljujarvi, it would be the Oilers who say no to that deal.
Really? The Oilers say no to that deal? That would surprise a lot of fans.
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When you factor in all that has happened with Puljujarvi in Edmonton this season and the lost trade leverage that comes with his comments about not being sure he’s worthy to be in the NHL, it sounds insane to imagine that the Oilers wouldn’t jump all over this trade. They could move a player who is $3 million on their cap, shake loose of a pending RFA that has clearly lost all confidence in himself, and then add a top-tier defenseman who has plenty left in the tank and is having an MVP-like season. It sounds like a win all the way around.
The money would be an issue and Karlsson might be more of what they have already (just better), but GM Ken Holland could then ship out Tyson Barrie for a song to even things out. In fact, the Oilers could even retain some of Barrie’s salary and come out ahead on the cap, should they so choose.
Why Would the Oilers Say No?
There are only a few reasons the Oilers would theoretically say no to this. First, it might be that the team was never interested in Karlsson. Perhaps they’ve identified him as someone who carries too much risk, both in terms of injury and production. If they see locking into a player that could be injury prone as too big a gamble, that’s a fair argument to make. Second, maybe they see him as too old and not part of an Oilers’ core he is much older than. If it was a one or two-year deal, that could be different. But, at four seasons after this one, that’s a long time to add someone who is years apart from the other stars. Third, maybe they see this season as a bit of an anomaly, and Karlsson may not be able to do this again until he’s 37 years old. That too is fair.
Finally, maybe Holland just can’t wrap his head around how he would work out the money. If the team were to move Puljujarvi and add Karlsson at 50% retained salary, they would be adding another $2.75 million onto their current cap. That’s not exactly easy to move. And, while I say dump Barrie for a song, that might be easier said than done.
Trades This Season Won’t Get Better Than This for Oilers
One could argue Karlsson is overpaid, even at $5.75 million. At half of his current contract, that’s not a very solid argument. Karlsson’s resume is what it is and the Oilers could certainly use a man of his talents. Others might argue the Oilers shouldn’t give up on Puljujarvi, but the team has been down this road multiple times now and Puljujarvi just isn’t figuring it out. There was no trade market for the winger over the summer and there’s even less of one now. If the Sharks are willing to take Puljujarvi on, all while holding back half of Karlsson’s salary, it seems nuts to think the Oilers wouldn’t seriously consider this.
Keep in mind, this is all hypothetical. Seravalli is not reporting that this trade offer has been made, nor that the two teams have talked about the logistics of a deal. There’s no word that Karlsson is open to joining the Oilers or that Holland has spoken to the player’s agent. This is just one insider source close to the Sharks who say the team knows nothing about the Oilers’ interest in Karlsson because they’ve shown none. And, when the trade idea was proposed and it was said the Oilers would shoot down the offer, it’s clear as day Karlsson is not joining this team.