Erik Karlsson is coming into year five of an 8-year, $92 million contract. Karlsson has made it clear he is not ok staying in San Jose. General manager Mike Grier wants an appropriate return for the 14-year veteran coming off a 101-point season. What is the appropriate return?
Before we get into the potential return for Karlsson, the Sharks have to figure out how much of his salary they are willing to retain. NHL rules allow a team to retain up to 50% of a player’s salary. Using 20% as an example, it would cost the Sharks $2.3 million of salary cap space for the next four seasons, totaling $9.2 million.
The return for Karlsson is going to depend how on much of Karlsson’s salary the Sharks are willing to retain. If the Sharks are only willing to retain 10%-20%, the return may be next to nothing. If the Sharks want a higher return that includes draft picks or prospects, they need to retain 25% or greater of his salary.
The best play for the Sharks may be to find a taker willing to give a package of draft picks in exchange for retaining 30% of Karlsson’s salary. The Sharks currently have $5.4 million of cap space available. Retaining 30% of Karlsson’s salary would give the Sharks $13 million of cap space to work with for the 2023-24 season. The Sharks could then utilize that cap space to take on a bad contract or two in exchange for more draft capital.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been the chalk to acquire Karlsson all summer, but things seem to have quieted down a bit. The problem is the Penguins have a salary cap conundrum of their own as they are $2.2 million over the salary cap. If a trade for Karlsson comes together, enough players would be moved around to make space for Karlsson. If that trade does not come together, the Penguins will need to go to a backup plan.
This player is an 11-year veteran and also a Stanley Cup champion. At 31 years old, he has plenty left in the tank and could be the missing link to make a team a Stanley Cup contender. He has been right around a point-per-game player for half his NHL seasons. Why is Vladimir Tarasenko still a free agent? Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito is no stranger to making big moves. Tarasenko’s last contract paid him $7.5 million AAV and the Panthers have over $9 million to work with after factoring in LTIR candidates. It seems logical for the Panthers to make a run at Tarasenko.