There’s no way to say it nicely. Erick Karlsson and the San Jose Sharks are in a slump. After losing longtime general manager Doug Wilson last year, in addition to the Evander Kane drama, the Sharks seem to be embroiled in more issues, this time concerning their on-ice performance.

If the Sharks are going to rebuild, they’ll need to move a huge piece in Erik Karlsson, the celebrated blue liner who takes up a big part of the club’s salary cap allocation.

According to CapFriendly, the 32-year old Swede is currently in the middle of an eight-year deal that he signed in 2019, with an AAV of $11.5 million.

Of course, it didn’t seem like a crazy idea at the time, as the offensive-minded Erik Karlsson is a two-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman. But things went quiet for a few years for the former first-rounder, as he struggled to find success with the Sharks.

This year is a different story. Karlsson seems to be back to his vintage abilities, and even recorded a hat trick on November 1 against the Anaheim Ducks, becoming the first player in San Jose Sharks history to score a three goals in a game. Because he’s 32, he also joins elite blue liners Nicklas Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara, Ed Jovanovski and Lubomir Visnovsky as the only NHL defensemen 32 and older to record a hat trick.

Essentially, Erik Karlsson just became prime trade bait, especially considering that the Sharks can retain up to 50% of his salary for themselves. He could be a valuable addition to many teams across the league this season, and has all the control as he will have to waive his no movement clause in order to go somewhere else. So, assuming he wants to, here are four Erik Karlsson possible trade destinations.


The Florida Panthers could use Erik Karlsson

NHL insiders Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman mused about the possibility of Karlsson heading to the sunshine state on their 32 Thoughts podcast. The Cats don’t have the cap space right now, but could free up some this summer when a huge chunk of Keith Yandle’s buyout comes off the books and Patric Hornqvist becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Losing Hornqvist frees up $5.3 million and $5,39 million comes as a result of the Yandle situation. Add the $1,18 million that comes off in the last year of Scott Darling’s buyout, and the club suddenly has nearly $12 million in cap space before moving any players in a deal for Erik Karlsson.

From an on-ice perspective, adding Karlsson to a roster that already includes Aaron Ekblad and a defensive forward like Aleksander Barkov gives Florida a whole new level of tenacity. Especially considering three Panthers blue liners in Radko Gudas, Marc Staal and Josh Mahura all face free agency this summer.