Is it Possible to get Erik Karlsson in Edmonton?

There has been plenty of turmoil in Ottawa this season. After a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, they are right near the bottom of the NHL standings this year. Fan favourite centre Kyle Turris was traded in a 3-way deal that saw Ottawa get Matt Duchene. The team was brutal after Duchene’s arrival. Tensions have never been higher between owner Eugene Melnyk and the Ottawa fan base. Star winger Mike Hoffman was rumoured to be on the trading block as well.

Tonight marks what could be the final home game for Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson. He was famously dangled at the trade deadline. With 1 year remaining on his deal, and with Ottawa likely not being able to afford to re-sign him, trade speculation surrounding the league’s best defenceman has been rampant.

Karlsson’s availability has been of particular interest to Oilers fans because he is exactly what the Oilers need on defence. Karlsson has a current cap hit of $7.5 million, and will certainly be in line for something north of $10 million after next season. Karlsson is one of the league’s best, and some Oilers fans believe that Chiarelli needs to do anything it takes to get him in Edmonton. So, what would it take?

The asking price at the deadline seemed to be massive. At least 5 quality pieces. An impactful roster player, multiple first-rounders (or a first round pick and former first rounder with high potential), and decent prospects. Oh yeah, the team would have to take on Bobby Ryan’s $7.25 million contract too.

The Oilers could offer Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi, their 2018 1st round pick, the Islanders’ 2019 3rd round pick, and Ostap Safin or Kirill Maksimov in exchange for Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan. Massive trade! Assuming that would get the job done, here is what the roster would look like next year after making that swap:

Ryan ($7.25M) McDavid ($12.5M) RW
Lucic ($6M) Draisaitl ($8.5M) Yamamoto ($0.925M)
Strome ($3M) Aberg ($0.65M)
Caggiula ($0.8741M) Khaira ($0.675M) Kassian ($1.95M)
Pakarinen ($0.761M)

Nurse ($4.5M) Karlsson ($7.5M)
Klefbom ($4.167M) Larsson ($4.167M)
Sekera ($5.5M) Russell ($4M)
Gryba ($0.9M) Benning ($0.8741M)

Talbot ($4.16M)
Montoya ($1.06M)

Total Cap Hit = $79.913 million
Buyouts: Pouliot – $1.33 million

Total: $81.243 million
Space with $78 million cap: -$3.243 million
Space with $82 million cap: $0.757 million

*assuming Nurse gets $4.5 million for his new deal and other RFAs Strome, Caggiula, Pakarinen, and Benning all accept their qualifying offers.

If I were Chiarelli and I were making this deal, I’d be demanding that Ottawa eat a significant portion of Ryan’s salary if he absolutely had to be included. If the salary cap only goes up to $78 million, the Oilers could not fit a roster under the salary cap without moving out another big piece in this scenario. If the cap went up to $82 million, they would have to sign a right winger for $750k or less and rely on Yamamoto or Aberg to play on the top line.

The Oilers trading for Karlsson would fix their issue on right defence, but it would significantly weaken an already weak forward group. This scenario would certainly not be in the best interest of the Oilers going forward.

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