San Jose Sharks: Did the team ultimately lose the Erik Karlsson trade?

San Jose Sharks (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
San Jose Sharks (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Can the San Jose Sharks officially be declared “losers” of the Erik Karlsson trade?

In September of 2018, the San Jose Sharks made a huge splash trade acquiring Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators. In hindsight, was it ultimately a mistake?

Karlsson has become one of the most recognizable faces in hockey over the last 10 seasons. At one point he was even regarded as the best defenseman in the sport.

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Since coming to San Jose, however, his presence has been on nothing short of a downward spiral. Between being injured during key moments of the season and playing inconsistently on the ice, it does beg the question if he is even worth the trouble.

Doug Wilson brought in the Swede on what at the time seemed to be a steal of a trade. Ottawa received Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 first-round pick.

Since then, Karlsson has been re-signed to an eight-year $92 million contract, with an AAV of $11.5 million, thus turning into the most lucrative deal a defenseman has ever received in the salary cap era.

In his two seasons with the Sharks, he has spent 43 regular-season games injured. To put that into perspective, in his final five seasons with the Senators he only missed a total of 16 regular-season games.

His injuries have become a concern for a team whose success is now directly tied to the individual success of Erik Karlsson.

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Additionally, Tierney and DeMelo have both grown exponentially since leaving San Jose. Tierney is now on the second line of the Ottawa Senators and is a key component of the team’s offense.

DeMelo who has since been moved to the Winnipeg Jets is one of the best defensemen on the team — a position that has clearly turned into a weak spot for the Sharks in the 2019-2020 season.

If that was not bad enough, the Sharks do not have their own first-round pick in a season that saw them finish third worst in points in the entire league. Thankfully, due to trading away Barclay Goodrow to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team still has first-round draft stock.

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Although it won’t be nearly as high of a selection as the one they gifted to Ottawa.

With all this being said, it continues to beg the question if Erik Karlsson is worth all of the trouble. Frankly, only time will tell if the aging star can finally find his second wind in San Jose.

After announcing the new playoff format, the Sharks are not among the 77.4 percent of teams that made the postseason. Marking the first time the team missed the playoffs since 2015, at the tail end of the Todd McLellan-era.

This unfortunately came to the delight of the arch-rival Vegas Golden Knights.

It is worth noting that the following season, San Jose returned with a vengeance and made its first (and only) Stanley Cup appearance in franchise history. Should a similar sequence happen next season, the Erik Karlsson trade and contract should prove to be worth it.

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However, the more bleak and likely outcome is that dark days are ahead for the franchise. Fans very well might have to face the harsh reality that the Sharks are headed towards a rebuild.