Erik Karlsson has made it known that he would like a trade out of San Jose. Here’s how the Seattle Kraken front office can bring him to the Pacific Northwest.
The Seattle Kraken have been linked to three-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson numerous times during the offseason. It is well known Seattle needs help defensively, and Karlsson is looking for a new home.
While the Kraken have been mentioned occasionally, so have several other teams, namely the Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Toronto Maple Leafs. While those three teams are Stanley Cup contenders, the Seattle Kraken have something those teams don’t – Cap Space.
The Cap Situation
Thanks to the effects of COVID-19, resulting in the shutdown of the NHL season in 2020-21, the league is still recovering financially. As a result, the salary cap stayed flat last season and only increases by $1M in the next. That tied the hands of teams that signed players to long-term big-dollar contracts, like Toronto.
Why is the cap so important in this situation?
Look no further than Karlsson’s cap hit – $11.5M. This contract is valid for another four seasons, meaning any team who takes him onto their roster must be prepared to adjust accordingly.
As the cap stands right now, Toronto is over the cap by a whopping $8.8M, while Pittsburgh is over by $1.5M. Carolina has $4.4M in cap space with only one restricted free agent left to sign a contract (Dylan Coghlan). Recently, news broke that the Hurricanes intend to sign forward Vladimir Tarasenko. This surely will cut into that cap space.
Seattle has an impressive $14.5M available under the cap. That includes 11 NHL forwards and 5 defensemen signed to their roster, with another three due contract extensions. The Seattle Kraken have enough financial resources to make this work – but how do they execute it?
In this proposal, I assume the Seattle Kraken give defenseman Will Borgen a 1-year qualifying offer, which amounts to $875K. Additionally, Cale Fleury signs a 1-year qualifying offer of $787K.
Finally, the Kraken sign Vince Dunn to an 8-year, $52 million contract with an AAV of $6.5 million. These moves address all the pending free agents and fill their defensive holes.
For our forwards, Tye Kartye and his $859K cap hit nails down the 12th forward position, with Shane Wright and his $918K cap hit solidifying Seattle’s forward depth.
As a result, the Seattle Kraken are left with $4.6M in cap space, with 13 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 3 goalies on the roster.
Clearing More Cap Space
Since the Kraken will have 7 defensemen already, one would have to go down to the AHL to make room for Karlsson. Fleury will be the odd man out on this one.
Additionally, I predict the Kraken will move goalie Chris Driedger‘s contract, thus removing an additional $2.385M. This puts the Kraken up to $7.77M in cap space – pretty good, right?
The final detail to make Karlsson a Kraken is the most significant aspect – San Jose will retain 50% of Karlsson’s salary in exchange for a Kraken second round draft pick. This makes his cap hit a mere $5.75M, leaving Seattle with $2M in cap space wiggle room.
A second round draft pick isn’t enough to complete this trade. The Kraken will likely have to provide San Jose with a prospect.
Fortunately, the Seattle Kraken now have a very impressive pipeline of prospects, thanks to General Manager Ron Francis drafting an impressive 21 players over the past two entry drafts.
There will be no shortage of possibilities for who the Sharks could take in exchange for the reigning Defenseman of the Year.
The Seattle Kraken have the cap space and the need for defensive help. Karlsson is coming off a career year in points.
San Jose has not utilized Karlsson’s defensive skills to the best of their ability. When Karlsson was in Ottawa for nine seasons, he averaged 98 blocked shots and 63 hits a year. During his 5-year stint in San Jose, he averaged only 69 blocked shots and 28 hits per season.
Putting Karlsson into Seattle’s hard-hitting defensive style will surely see his defensive numbers return to his former days.
Karlsson is currently a Shark – but it is only a matter of time before he dons a different shade of blue and embraces his true inner-sea creature – a killer Kraken.