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 you to the Pacific Northwest.
The Seattle Kraken has been linked to three-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson numerous times this offseason. It’s well known that Seattle needs help defensively and Karlsson is looking for a new home.
While the Kraken has been mentioned occasionally, so have several other teams, namely the Carolina Hurricanes, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. While all three of those teams are Stanley Cup contenders, the Seattle Kraken has something those teams don’t: Cap Space.
The Cap Situation
Thanks to the effects of COVID-19, which resulted in the shutdown of the NHL season in 2020-21, the league is still recovering financially. As a result, the salary cap was flat last season and only increases by $1 million the next. That tied the hands of teams that signed players to long-term, big-money contracts, like Toronto.
Why is the limit so important in this situation?
Look no further than Karlsson’s hard cap: $11.5 million. This contract is good for another four seasons, which means that any team that lists him must be prepared to adapt accordingly.
As the cap stands right now, Toronto is over the cap by a whopping $8.8 million, while Pittsburgh is over $1.5 million. Carolina has $4.4 million in cap space and only one restricted free agent left to sign a contract (Dylan Coghlan). Recently, the news broke that the Hurricanes intend to sign forward Vladimir Tarasenko. This will surely reduce that cap space.
Seattle has an impressive $14.5 million available under the cap. That includes 11 NHL forwards and 5 defensemen signed to his roster, with three other contract extensions expired. The Seattle Kraken has enough financial resources to make this work, but how do they run it?
In this proposition, I’m assuming Seattle Kraken gives defenseman Will Borgen a 1-year qualifying offer, coming in at $875K. Also, Cale Fleury signs a $787K 1-year qualifying offer.
Finally, the Kraken signs Vince Dunn to an 8-year, $52 million contract with an AAV of $6.5 million. These moves address all of the pending free agents and fill their defensive holes.
For our forwards, Tye Kartye and his $859,000 salary cap hit the spot at the 12th small forward position, with Shane Wright and his $918,000 salary cap cementing Seattle’s forward depth.
As a result, the Seattle Kraken is left with $4.6 million in cap space, with 13 forwards, 7 defensemen and 3 goalies on the roster.
Clearing more boundary space
Since the Kraken will already have 7 defenders, one would have to drop down to the AHL to make room for Karlsson. Fleury will be the outsider in this case.
Also, I predict that the Kraken will move goalie Chris Driedger’s contract, wiping out an additional $2.385 million. This puts the Kraken up to $7.77M in cap space, pretty good right?
The final detail in making Karlsson a Kraken is the most important aspect: San Jose will retain 50% of Karlsson’s salary in exchange for a Kraken second-round draft pick. This brings his cap to just $5.75 million, leaving Seattle with $2 million in wiggle room.
A second-round pick isn’t enough to complete this trade. The Kraken will probably have to provide San Jose with perspective.
Fortunately, the Seattle Kraken now has a very impressive pipeline of prospects, thanks to general manager Ron Francis who selected an impressive 21 players in the last two entry drafts.
There will be no shortage of possibilities as to who the Sharks could take in exchange for the current Defender of the Year.
The Seattle Kraken have the cap space and the need for defensive help. Karlsson is coming off a year of racing in points.
San Jose hasn’t used Karlsson’s defensive skills to the fullest. When Karlsson was in Ottawa for nine seasons, he averaged 98 blocked shots and 63 hits a year. During his 5-year tenure in San Jose, he averaged just 69 blocked shots and 28 hits per season.
Putting Karlsson in Seattle’s hard-hitting defensive style will surely return his defensive numbers to their earlier days.
Karlsson is currently a shark, but it’s only a matter of time before he dons a different shade of blue and embraces his true creature from the inner sea: a killer Kraken.