The Sharks will get a firsthand look at the package of assets they used to acquire Erik Karlsson when they visit the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. Just over three years removed from the blockbuster deal, those assets are beginning to bear fruit for Karlsson's former team.
On Sept. 13, 2018, the Sharks sent Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan Demelo, Josh Norris and an unprotected 2020 first-round draft pick for Karlsson and Francis Perron. At the time, the Sharks were one of the top teams in the Western Conference and coming off a third consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff appearance.
Ottawa, meanwhile, had finished second-to-last in the Atlantic Division and wanted to reload with younger talent.
In his three seasons with the Sharks, Karlsson has been hampered by injuries and has fallen well below his expected point production. The veteran looks to be much healthier so far in 2021-22, as Karlsson is tied with Timo Meier as the Sharks' top point scorers through two games.
Perron, who came to San Jose along with Karlsson, played one strong season with the Barracuda before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks during the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. After his two-way contract with Vancouver was not renewed, Perron took his talents to IF Björklöven in Sweden's second-tier hockey league HockeyAllsvenskan, where he still competes.
On the Ottawa side, several of the pieces from the Karlsson deal are rounding into form for the Senators.
Chris Tierney has three goals through three games this season as Ottawa's third-line center. Joining Tierney on that line going forward will be Tim Stützle, the third overall pick of the 2020 NHL Draft.
The Sharks' precipitous fall to the bottom of the standings in 2019-20 put that unprotected first-round draft pick into the top five. Just 19 years old, Stützle scored 29 points in his rookie season and already has one assist in Year 2. Stützle actually saw time on the first line to start the season due to Brady Tkachuk's injury, but will slide back as the star returns Thursday against the Sharks.
Norris, the Sharks' No. 19 overall draft pick in 2017, finished fourth in Calder Memorial Trophy voting last season and has grown into a first-line center for Ottawa.
Demelo had 22 points in his first season with the Senators, and was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2020 third-round draft pick.
Finally, Rudolfs Balcers eventually found his way back to the Sharks after making his NHL debut with Ottawa. Balcers was waived just prior to the 2021 season and claimed by San Jose. The Sharks re-signed him to a two-year contract in July.
Karlsson is one of the best players in Ottawa's history, and should get a warm welcome Thursday night at Canadian Tire Centre. His primary offseason residence remains in Ottawa.
However, the future looks to be bright for the Senators with the players it acquired by trading him to the Sharks.