After a summer of speculation, Erik Karlsson is officially a member of the San Jose Sharks. This is a huge get for an organization that was relatively quiet during the offseason and the acquisition adds a great deal to the team without dramatically affecting the current makeup of the roster.
Perhaps more than for any other team, San Jose adding a top-tier caliber defenseman will make a huge difference this season. They have plenty of room to re-sign him should the two sides see this as a good fit and this gives the Sharks arguably the top defensive core in the NHL.
No doubt Karlsson is a huge get for any team but in San Jose, he could mean the difference between a playoff contender and a Stanley Cup contending organization. This is exactly what the team needed at a time they most needed it.
A Quiet Summer
Until Thursday, San Jose hadn't done much in terms of making a splash. Such inaction was unlike GM Doug Wilson who has never been known as a manager unafraid to make a move. The Sharks were listed as a team always interested but never frontrunners, yet with this trade, their relatively quiet offseason changed immediately, perhaps making more noise than any deal in the last two months.
That alone is important to a franchise that was watching teams like Los Angeles, Calgary, Vegas and others in their division make moves that improved their clubs. San Jose's inability to add was pushing them down the totem pole for contending teams. They needed to do something and Karlsson was about the biggest thing they could do.
A Stacked Defense
San Jose already had a strong defensive corps. The ability to put Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman Brent Burns on the ice for 20-plus minutes a game was huge. When you add another minute-munching blueliner to the group — one that has even more potential offensive upside than the offensively gifted Burns — the Sharks blue line became arguably the most dangerous in the NHL. Since 2012-13, Karlsson (369) and Burns (346) easily lead all NHL defensemen in points. This isn't accounting for the fact the team had Marc-Édouard Vlasic and Justin Braun already on the roster.
The team may be an older team in terms of offensive production up front, but when you factor in the points that will come from the blueline, being able to deploy either Karlsson or Burns at any point throughout a game makes up for any missing forward production.
#TradeCentre DETAILS: #Sens trade D Erik Karlsson to #Sharks for F Chris Tierney, F Josh Norris, F Rudolfs Balcers, D Dylan DeMelo, 2019 2nd-rd pick, 2020 1st-rd pick https://t.co/IB4q46Rx4u #TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/fZc5tPodls— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) September 13, 2018
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the trade for the Sharks is that they gave up, relatively speaking, very little to acquire him. After a summer that kept Karlsson in Ottawa because the Senators didn't deem the offered returns by any interested clubs as worthy, the Sharks were able to land Karlsson without giving up any significant roster pieces and two valuable draft picks.
The biggest name going the other way was Chris Tierney who produced 40 points, including 17 goals in 82 games for the Sharks last season. At only 24 years of age, he has upside but is hardly proven. Dylan DeMelo added 20 points (all assists) last season but he's not a significant factor moving forward for the Sens and the first-round pick is valued, but not as high if the Sharks have a strong season.
By most accounts, this was a steal for the Sharks who found themselves able to pull off a deal in the final days leading into the NHL season. It's a huge get for the club who needed to make a move and of all the teams with room to re-sign him, the Sharks had probably the most space to make a new deal work.
One more thing. Watch out for this team's power play. It's bound to be extremely dangerous.