Could Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns be on the trade block?

Elliotte Friedman reported on Sportsnet yesterday that the San Jose Sharks had “preliminary trade talks” centered around Karlsson early in the season. Also, they’re open to breaking up the Karlsson-Burns defensive duo if the right offer comes along.

“It does look like there were some preliminary, very preliminary, trade talks this year, involving defenseman Erik Karlsson and a couple of teams,” Friedman said. “I don’t necessarily think that’s going to go anywhere.”

After back-to-back sub-standard seasons, Karlsson’s quick start to the 2021-22 campaign – 26 points in 33 games – reminded the hockey world that he’s still a phenomenal talent. But he’s also 31, has had trouble staying healthy over the last half-decade, and has five seasons left on an eight-year, $92 million dollar agreement signed in Jun. 2019.

So it’s not a surprise that these trade talks were “very preliminary” – in a barely-rising cap world, the San Jose Sharks would almost certainly have to retain a significant portion of Karlsson’s $11.5 million AAV to move him.

Friedman continued: “What I do think it says is the Sharks recognize having two elite, Norris Trophy-winning right-shot defensemen hasn’t always mixed as well, meshed as well, as the team would’ve hoped.”

That’s one way of looking at it.