The Sharks landed their big fish.
Less than 24 hours before the start of training camp, San Jose acquired defenseman Erik Karlsson (and AHL forward Francis Perron) in a massive trade with the Ottawa Senators. The Sharks paid a big price for the two-time Norris Trophy winner, sending two roster players, two prospects, a 2020 first-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick and a conditional pick to Ottawa.
Let's not bury the lede here: The Sharks acquired arguably the best defenseman in hockey, rounding out a top three of Karlsson, 2017 Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Few, if any teams, boast that level of talent at the top of their blue line.
"It's extremely rare that players of this caliber become available," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "The word 'elite' is often thrown around casually, but Erik's skillset and abilities fit that description like few other players in today's game."
Since entering the NHL in 2009, Karlsson has scord 96 more points than the next closest defenseman (Keith Yandle) and 117 more than Burns.
Giving up Norris could sting, but acquiring Karlsson without losing Timo Meier or their 2018 first-round pick is an unabashed win for the Sharks and general manager Doug Wilson. San Jose will have to find internal options to replace third-line center Chris Tierney, who is coming off a career year, and bottom-pairing defenseman Dylan DeMelo. But, with Antti Suomela, the Finnish league’s leading scorer last season, and Tim Heed waiting in the wings, the Sharks could afford to make this move.
Wilson is no stranger to making the big move and, as our own Ray Ratto wrote, this has shades of the Joe Thornton acquisition from the Bruins 13 years ago. The Sharks paid pennies (well, maybe, quarters in this case) on the dollar for one of the league’s best players, and made it clear they're going it for now as Thornton's career winds down.
And in the process, they’ve landed firmly in the Stanley Cup conversation.