Revisiting the Sharks’ Erik Karlsson Trade

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.

Looking back on it two 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 October, it was mentioned that general manager Doug Wilson said that he will be 100% for the first time this season, 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 109 games, he has 85 points (nine goals, 76 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 goes well, the Sharks will have three top scorers that are on the 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. 

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, and 23, and 40 points. 

Chris Tierney Ottawa Senators
Chris Tierney, Ottawa Senators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He’s continuing that streak, with his first season being a career-high in points, with 48 points. He then had 37 and 26 from the 18-19 to the 19-20 season. It’s a shame to have lost such a great forward, but it’s great to hear he’s still producing at a high level.

Rudolfs Balcers

Balcers wasn’t a “household name” perse, 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)

He put up 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists) in his only season with the ‘Cuda. With the Sens, in his two seasons so far in the NHL, has 17 points (six goals, 11 assists). 

Dylan Demelo

Demelo has since moved on from the Senators, getting traded at this year’s 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, Ottawa Senators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He hasn’t had any points with the Jets, but he played well enough to get an extension. If he was still with San Jose, I personally feel we 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 our system since being drafted by us 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). 

Then he played with the University of Michigan, going over a point per game again in his final season (19 points, 17 games). It becomes obvious that Norris was worth his 19th overall selection at this point, but now, he will be moving to the pros with the Belleville Senators in the AHL. 

Ottawa Senators Prospect Josh Norris
Ottawa Senators Prospect Center Josh Norris during the Ottawa Senators Development Camp on June 25, 2019 (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 we 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, a point per game average (1.08 after doing the math). This won him the AHL rookie of the year award. Who knows what he can put up in a normal length season? 

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. Great pick in a stacked class for the Senators. 

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 we now have two Norris-winning defensemen on one team. I would say the Sharks won the trade because of that fact, who are both now 100% healthy and ready to work. 


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