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Erik Karlsson: don’t rule out Jesperi Kotkaniemi for San Jose
Now that Vladimir Tarasenko has finally signed his contract for next season, many eyes are on the transaction market. Among the big autonomous players, only Matt Dumba (a future member of the Coyotes?) and Tomas Tatar remain uncontracted (and Patrick Kane, who will sign after the start of the campaign).

And when we think of a potential transaction, we immediately think of Erik Karlsson. The defenseman, coming off a 101-point season last year, wants out, and if the Sharks can find a partner willing to take him on at his imposing salary, he’ll leave.

Among the teams that keep coming back are the Carolina Hurricanes. They’re known to be aggressive, but one way or another, they’ll have to free up money to do it.

And that’s precisely why Kevin Paul Dupont raises the possibility of Jesperi Kotkaniemi being traded to San Jose in today’s column.

If the Hurricanes are serious about acquiring Karlsson, it’s not such a crazy idea: trading Kotkaniemi would free up $4.82 million on their payroll (and that’s for the next seven years) and the fact that he’s a young center is enough to interest the Sharks, who want to get something more than just future considerations in return for Karlsson.

They won’t just give him to a club: they’ve made that clear.

If KK goes the San Jose route, he shouldn’t be the only one to do so. We can expect Brett Pesce or Brady Skjei to follow him if either guy agrees to go play with the Sharks. Pesce can submit a list of 15 teams he wants to play for, while Skjei can submit a list of 10 teams he doesn’t want to play for.

In an ideal world, the Hurricanes would trade Pesce since he’s right-handed and there would be quite a bit of congestion on the right if Karlsson joined Brent Burns, Tony DeAngelo, Dylan Coghlan and Jalen Chatfield. On the other hand, they may have no choice but to trade left-handed Skjei if Pesce doesn’t want anything to do with San Jose.

It’s worth remembering, however, that despite everything, I’m still having trouble imagining a scenario in which the Hurricanes get their hands on Karlsson. There are already a lot of right-handers in town, and I don’t know how willing the club is to trade Kotkaniemi for another right-handed defenseman.

So we’ll be keeping an eye on everything over the next few weeks, but if the Hurricanes are determined to get their hands on Karlsson, we’ll have to keep a very close eye on Kotkaniemi’s name as a potential return. I still doubt it, but the possibility of getting a 101-point defenseman may motivate an aspiring club to go for it.

Breaking news

– Jacob Fowler is in action today at Team USA’s summer camp for the WJC.

– What do you think?

– The question arises.

– And once again, it’s not for the right reasons.

– The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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