2 Maple Leafs trade packages to consider for Sharks defenceman Erik Karlsson
Photo credit:Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports
By Shane Seney1 month ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs are still in the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes. While it appears the Pittsburgh Penguins remain the front runner at this point, the Leafs remain in contention, along with the Seattle Kraken and Carolina Hurricanes. However, there’s one thing holding up trade talks. Nobody wants to give the Sharks a trade offer with substance.
It was reported earlier this week by Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, the Sharks are standing pat at the moment as they haven’t received any significant trade offers. To this point, it sounds like this trade may completed in the dying days of August.
For now, the Leafs remain in the mix. Adding Karlsson would be a major boost to the team’s back end and it would bring in one of, if not the best, puck-moving defenceman in the entire league. Yes, the $11.5-million salary for the next four seasons is a massive hurdle, but that doesn’t mean Leafs general manager (GM) Brad Treliving shouldn’t be trying to get creative to complete a deal. Here’s a couple trade packages to consider:
TJ Brodie & a First-Rounder ’26
Too significant? Hard to say, as Karlsson would be an upgrade over Brodie, there’s no doubt about that. The Sharks are going to need to retain money in any Karlsson deal, this much we know, but at this point, it’s hard to say how much they’re willing to eat.
If Toronto ends up the final destination, expect to see them only have Karlsson on the books for 50% of his contract, at $5.75 million at the most. Remember when Kyle Dubas didn’t have money for Ryan O’Reilly and then next thing you know he’s on the Leafs roster at $1.8 million instead of $7.5 million? Well, thank assistant GM Brandon Pridham and his math skills for that, and Treliving will be leaning on him much the same.
The first-round pick is a big piece and something the Sharks will be interested in. Is a 2026 pick too far away? Perhaps. Brodie on the other hand, likely would be given a ton of minutes in San Jose and the 33-year-old could then be flipped before next season’s trade deadline for another asset.
Three-Team Deal Involving Matt Murray
The Maple Leafs buy out window will open on Wednesday and they’ll have 48 hours to consider buying out both Murray and potentially Brodie. The latter makes zero sense and is extremely unlikely, meanwhile Murray is a prime target.
If Treliving decides to keep Murray on the books, which would be a bit of a shocking move, he could then include the goaltender and his $4.68-million salary in a Karlsson trade.
The Sharks have two 26-year-old netminders in Mackenzie Blackwood and Kaapo Kahkonen and likely zero interest in Murray. The Leafs would need to get either the Anaheim Ducks or Chicago Blackhawks involved, something that complicates things even further.
If there’s another team involved, the Leafs could throw in a mid-round draft pick or mid-level prospect to get said team to eat some of Karlsson’s remaining salary, much like we saw out of the Minnesota Wild in the O’Reilly trade.
If Murray is involved, Treliving will need to include a high-draft pick, or perhaps Nick Robertson for the Sharks to bite. Meanwhile, likely at least a third-round pick and a mid-level prospect like Alex Steeves, to get a team to consider taking on some of Karlsson’s contract. Complicated? To say the very least.
The Maple Leafs Can’t Overpay in Any Scenario
If the Leafs land Karlsson, it will be some of Treliving’s finest work, but he cannot set them back by doing so. No William Nylander, no Matthew Knies, no Calle Jarnkrok, no Morgan Rielly. Nothing stupid, frankly.
Losing a first-round pick is essentially the most Toronto can give up and to be fair, Karlsson is a Norris-trophy winning blueliner who just put up 101 points and looks like his old self again. The Sharks have zero leverage as everyone and their grandmother knows he wants out of San Jose. Teams aren’t going to cave and this is a huge reason why GM Mike Grier hasn’t been comfortable with pulling the trigger on a move.
For Treliving, he needs to stand pat and continue to play hardball. It’s even hard to say at this point how much Toronto is interested, as it’s been confirmed the two teams have been in contact, but no one seems to know when and how much those conversations advanced.
Yes, the Maple Leafs should be interested in adding Karlsson to their blue line, but it will need to be at the right price on their cap for the next four seasons, and it will need to be a trade package that doesn’t create a gaping hole somewhere else in their lineup.
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