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Erik Karlsson: the Maple Leafs have spoken to the Sharks about him

Erik Karlsson is coming off an exceptional season. The Sharks defenseman amassed 101 points in 82 games, earning him the Norris Trophy last night. And before anyone talks to me about his differential, take a look at the team around him and the situations in which he was used: it’s important to put some context around the numbers.

That said, Karlsson makes no secret of the fact that he’d like to play for a team that aspires to the big time, and the Sharks aren’t going to give him that chance. In other words, he wants to be traded.

His imposing contract of $11.5 million per year until 2026-27 makes this no easy task, especially in a world where the salary cap doesn’t go up. While the Sharks are potentially willing to withhold salary (but probably not 50%), he will still be quite expensive for his new club.

But that doesn’t stop teams from showing interest. The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of them.

That’s right. The Maple Leafs.

That said, they’re not the only ones: among the many teams interested in his services are the Kraken and the Hurricanes, who could reunite him with Brent Burns.

At the same time, it didn’t work out in San Jose.

Getting back to the Maple Leafs, though, I wonder if it’s really a good idea for them to be interested in another big earner. The club already has to come up with the money to sign Auston Matthews and William Nylander within the next 12 months (and, ideally, that’ll happen this summer), and while they still have $10 million to spend before they hit the salary cap, they currently only have eight NHL forwards under contract.

And last time I checked, it takes 12 in a typical lineup – plus extras.

Speaking of Matthews and Nylander, by the way, Morgan Reilly was recently asked about his two teammates, and clearly, he seems pretty optimistic that they’ll stay in town for the long haul.

I don’t know how Brad Treliving might handle it all, but it will be a situation to keep an eye on. Will Karlsson be another big earner in Toronto? We’ll know in a few weeks.

In gusto

– Speaking of the Maple Leafs.

– It will be a special situation.

– Interesting.

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