The dust has finally settled on the majority of free agency.
As teams struggle with the fairly flat salary cap, the offseason options are slowly dwindling down. But that doesn't mean that transaction can't happen.
We're still waiting on where Erik Karlsson will land. There are still goalies on the market for teams starved for netminders. And there's drama in Toronto because there's always drama in Toronto.
It was tough to get the B/R NHL Staff out of the pool, but we managed to do so. We canvassed them of their offseason predictions and needless to say, they delivered.
Erik Karlsson Traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins' new president of hockey operations (and acting general manager) Kyle Dubas isn't wasting time trying to make a big splash in this summer's trade market.
It's believed Dubas is trying to land a very big fish in the form of Erik Karlsson. During a July 10 appearance on the NHL Network, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman indicated the Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes are the front-runners to acquire the San Jose Sharks defenseman.
Fresh off a career-best 101-point performance, the 33-year-old Swede earned his third James Norris Memorial Trophy. He currently sits atop our July NHL Trade Block Big Board.
Karlsson's contract is a significant obstacle on the path to a trade. He's carrying an $11.5 million average annual value through 2026-27 with a full no-movement clause. He could waive the latter for a chance to skate alongside fellow thirty-something superstars such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh.
Cap Friendly indicates the Penguins sit above this season's $83.5 million cap hit by over $2.3 million. Teams are allowed to be over the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when the regular season begins.
Dubas, however, proved capable of pulling off salary-cap gymnastics during his tenure as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He'll weave his magic once again and put together an intriguing package offer to acquire Karlsson.
Perhaps he'll convince the Sharks to retain 40 percent of Karlsson's cap hit. Maybe he convinces the Sharks to take overpaid veterans Mikael Granlund and Jeff Petry off his hands if he packages his 2024 and 2025 first-round picks along with a top prospect as part of the return. Perhaps he gets a third team involved to spread Karlsson's cap hit around.
It won't be easy but Dubas seems motivated to make it happen. It will become the biggest trade of his NHL management career.