Sharks’ Karlsson Has Not Been Asked to Waive NMC

Heading into the 2022-23 campaign, many believed San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson had one of, if not the worst contract in the entire league. The 32-year-old seemed to be a shell of his former self, as injuries appeared to have hampered what had been an outstanding career. His $11.5 million cap hit, a deal that doesn’t expire until the end of the 2026-27 season, felt like an unmitigated disaster. However, the Swedish rearguard appears to have taken the outside noise personally, and is back to being his elite self in 2022-23 with a ridiculous 19 goals and 77 points in 60 games.

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Because of his serious improvement in play, paired with the Sharks’ struggles as a team, Karlsson has gone from an untradeable contract just months ago to one that several teams have apparently been considering making a move for. At the top of that list is the Edmonton Oilers, who have reportedly been showing interest for some time now, to the point many have been expecting a deal to come before the March 3 trade deadline. However, based on recent comments he himself made to the media, it doesn’t sound like a trade of any sort will be taking place in the immediate future.

Karlsson Likely Staying Put

A day after his team’s best forward in Timo Meier had been sent off to the New Jersey Devils, Karlsson couldn’t hide his disappointment. While this trade was expected to happen, it only further proves the fact that the Sharks are in the early stages of what could be a rebuild. Safe to say, that isn’t the most appealing thing for the two-time Norris Trophy winner, who is still searching for his first Stanley Cup ring.

“You trade a guy like Timo, I don’t think that shows that this is going to be a quick turnaround,” an honest Karlsson told reporters. “It’s unfortunate. I understand what needs to be done from an organizational perspective, and it just sucks that it happened to be where I’m at this stage in my career.”

Erik Karlsson San Jose Sharks
Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

You can’t help but feel for Karlsson, who after playing with some rather mediocre Ottawa Senators teams (aside from a miraculous run in 2017) was dealt to what was at the time a Stanley Cup-contending Sharks roster. However, after a deep playoff run in his first year as a Shark, the team has failed to qualify for the playoffs in what will soon be the fourth straight season.

Related: Tanner Jeannot Trade Could Haunt Oilers and GM Ken Holland

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This is what made many believe that, if presented with the opportunity, Karlsson would waive his no-movement clause (NMC) in order to be moved to a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. That may very well be the case, though, he admitted on Monday that he hasn’t even been approached about such a scenario.

“I think it would be weird if (Mike Grier) comes to me with three days left and asked me to waive my no-move,” Karlsson said. “We’ve had plenty of time for that if that was the case so I’m not too worried about it. I’m just here to play hockey and enjoy my time.”

Oilers Were Likely Never Close to Landing Karlsson

Despite some chatter that the Oilers and Sharks were discussing a deal that would have sent Karlsson to Edmonton, those appear to have been nothing more than rumors. The fact that it never got to the point of the veteran defenseman being asked if he would waive his NMC tells you all you need to know on that front.

Ken Holland Edmonton Oilers GM
Ken Holland, Edmonton Oilers GM (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This has to be quite frustrating for Oilers fans, who have been begging Ken Holland to do something to help support Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in their quest for a Stanley Cup. Perhaps the veteran GM pulls a rabbit out of his hat in the next few days, but it seems unlikely. Barring a complete change of events, fans should prepare to settle for a Vladislav Gavrikov or Joel Edmundson as opposed to a Jakob Chychrun or Karlsson.

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