Revisiting the Sharks’ Erik Karlsson Trade

*This article was originally published in Sep. 2019

On Sept. 13, 2018, the San Jose Sharks made an absolutely shocking trade with the Ottawa Senators. They traded for two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, as well as forward prospect Francis Perron, in exchange for Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan Demelo, and former Sharks draft pick Josh Norris, as well as a 2020 unprotected first-round pick.


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Looking back on it four years later, who won the trade? To decide, let’s take a look at who both teams got in that trade. 

Erik Karlsson

In an NHL.com article from early Oct. 2021, it was mentioned that then-general manager Doug Wilson said that Karlsson was going to be 100% for the first time after missing significant time in two straight seasons with injury. 

This doesn’t mean that the Sharks received damaged goods, but more along the lines of bad luck. In his eight years with the Sens, he put up a total of 518 points in 627 games (126 goals, 392 assists), just under a point per game (0.82 after doing some math). 

SeasonGoalsAssistsTotal Points
2009-1052126
2010-11133245
2011-12195978
2012-136814
2013-14205474
2014-15214567
2016-17175469
2017-1895362
Karlsson’s Career with Ottawa (Stats from NHL.com)

With the Sharks so far, in his 213 games, he has 142 points (27 goals, 115 assists). We knew he was going to be in a reduced role with the team, with veterans such as fellow Norris winner Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to hold up the other end of the points for defensemen, but if it all went well, the Sharks were going to have three top scorers on defense. Wishful thinking. 

Francis Perron

Perron was short-lived with the Sharks organization, lasting one season with the Sharks’ AHL team, the San Jose Barracuda. It did not come without production though, with him raking up 47 points (18 goals, 27 assists), in 63 games. 

Francis Perron San Jose Barracuda
Francis Perron, San Jose Barracuda (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

After that season, during the 2019 draft, the Sharks traded him to the Vancouver Cancuks in exchange for Tom Pyatt, who was then released and remains a free agent to this day. As does Perron, after he played with Utica Comets in 2019-20, putting up 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 42 games. Following that season, he left to play in Europe.

Now to what the Senators received. 

Chris Tierney

Tierney was a great plug-and-play guy where you can put him anywhere from the middle to the bottom six and he can produce. He put up over 20 points in all four seasons with the Sharks, with seasons of 21, 20, 23, and 40 points. 

Chris Tierney Ottawa Senators
Chris Tierney, former Ottawa Senator (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He’s continuing that streak, with his first season being a career-high in points, with 48 points. He then had point totals of 37, 19, and 18 from the 18-19 through the 2021-22 season.

Rudolfs Balcers

Balcers wasn’t a “household name” per se, but he had one season in the AHL with the Barracuda, and based on his numbers with them, he would’ve done alright with the Sharks.

Rudolfs Balcers Ottawa Senators
Rudolfs Balcers, Ottawa Senators 2019 development camp (Courtesy Ottawa Senators)

With the Sharks, he had 40 points in 102 games. In July 2022, he signed a one-year contract with the Florida Panthers.

Dylan Demelo

Demelo has since moved on from the Senators, getting traded at the 2020 deadline to the Winnipeg Jets, then signing a four-year extension with them. Demelo got his first NHL goal with the Sharks in 2016 and didn’t score again until his first season with the Sens, getting four goals in 2018-19, along with 18 assists to add up to 22 points. 

Dylan DeMelo Ottawa Senators
Dylan DeMelo, former Ottawa Senator (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In 139 games with Winnipeg, he has tallied 22 points. If he was still with San Jose, I personally feel the Sharks would not have a hole in the third defensive pairing because Demelo could’ve fit in there and have great chemistry with Mario Ferraro. 

Josh Norris

This one hurt. Norris was arguably the best prospect in the Sharks system since being drafted in 2019 with the 19th overall pick. He was dynamite with the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP), with his last season being his best, having a point-per-game average (61 points, 61 games). 

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Then he played with the University of Michigan, going over a point per game again in his final season (19 points, 17 games). It has become obvious that Norris was worth his 19th overall selection at this point.

Josh Norris Ottawa Senators
Josh Norris, Ottawa Senators (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With his first season in the pros also came the killing blow for Sharks fans after they traded him away. Even in a COVID-19-shortened season, Norris’ stat line still showed up in leaps and bounds. He had 31 goals, 30 assists, a total of 61 points in 56 games, and a point-per-game average (1.08 after doing the math). This won him the AHL rookie of the year award. He followed that up with 35 points in 56 NHL games in 2020-21, leading to a fourth-place finish in Calder Trophy voting. His sophomore season was even better with 35 goals and 55 points in 66 games. That resulted in him signing an eight-year, $63.6 million contract, and he looks like a budding superstar.

2020 First-Round Pick

After the Sharks re-signed Erik Karlsson, the first moved to the year 2020. It was high risk because it was unprotected, and thinking about it now, it was a dumb move, because it turned into a lottery pick. The pick was the one Alex Trebek made for the Ottawa Senators (rest in peace Trebek), which was Tim Stutzle. It was a great pick in a stacked class for the Senators as he already has 87 points in 133 career games.

The Verdict

There are multiple schools of thought when it comes to who actually won this trade. You can argue the Sens won the trade because of Norris alone, considering what a gem he turned out to be. You can also argue that the Sharks won the trade because they now have two Norris-winning defensemen on one team.


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