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Karlsson Moves to the Sharks, Dramatically Shortening Their Championship Odds

Aaron Gray

by Aaron Gray in NHL Hockey

Sep 14, 2018 · 8:25 AM PDT

Erik Karlsson with the Senators
After nearly six months of speculation, Erik Karlsson was finally traded to the San Jose Sharks. Photo by Michael Miller (Wikipedia Commons).
  • The Senators have traded captain Erik Karlsson to the Sharks for multiple picks and prospects
  • San Jose’s 2019 Stanley Cup odds now sit at +1100
  • Just what were the Senators thinking?

After an offseason of rampant speculation, Erik Karlsson has finally been traded out of the Eugene Melnyk’s garbage fire, otherwise known as the Ottawa Senators. However, Sens fans’ pain is Sharks’ fans gain, as San Jose now lays claim to the most dominant defense corps in the NHL.

To understand why Karlsson was traded, why he got such an underwhelming return, and how all of this stands to affect San Jose’s cup dreams, read on!

2019 Stanley Cup Odds

Team Odds
Toronto Maple Leafs +650
Tampa Bay Lightning +725
Nashville Predators +900
Winnipeg Jets +1000
San Jose Sharks +1100

Why Did Karlsson Return So Little?

Well, calling the last 12 months for the Ottawa Senators an unmitigated disaster is, quite frankly, still charitable. Over the course of that same time span, Ottawa gave up their 2019 1st round draft pick for Matt Duchene and proceeded to finish 30th in the league, had their AGM face criminal assault charges,  and endured a cyber-bullying scandal that forced Pierre Dorian into moving sniper Mike Hoffman for pennies on the dollar.

Lurking in the background of all this tumult was the fact that Erik Karlsson was entering the last year of his contract at the onset of the 2018-2019 season, and all signs were pointing towards him entering unrestricted free agency come July 1st, 2019.

Speculation finally ended yesterday, as the Erik Karlsson saga ended in Ottawa with a trade to the Senators. Ottawa is still fraught with a ton of controversy and unresolved scandals, but they were finally able to dispense with the cloud of the Karlsson distraction hanging over them.


This return was dramatically underwhelming for the Senators, who traded their captain, a 28 year old two-time Norris Trophy winner  and best player in franchise history for a third line centre ( Tierney), a #6 defenseman (DeMelo), Josh Norris (2017 first round draft pick who’s tracking poorly), Rudolfs Balcers (Latvian AHL superstar), and draft picks (including a complex set of conditional picks).

The Sharks lacked a 2019 first round pick after sending it to the Buffalo Sabres as part of their Evander Kane trade at the 2018 trade deadline, so the Senators couldn’t even acquire a first-round pick for the 2019 draft. The Senators are a good bet to finish last this season, and they own 0 picks in the first round this year as their 2019 first went to Colorado in the Duchene deal, and it isn’t lottery protected.

Average Odds to Win the 2019 Stanley Cup

There’s a very good chance that Ottawa will be forking over a top 3 draft pick in the stacked 2019 NHL draft to the Avalanche, and that Duchene will walk after his contract expires at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

The most likely explanation for why Karlsson got so little is because either ownership or General Manager Pierre Dorian didn’t want Karlsson traded to an Eastern Conference team, because they didn’t like the prospect of having to face him for the next 9+ years. One of the aforementioned conditional draft picks dictates that San Jose must give up their 2021 first round draft pick if Karlsson plays for an Eastern Conference team this season or in 2019-2020.

What Does this Do for San Jose’s Cup Chances?

Most books have closed their NHL championship futures for the time being, but thanks to our NHL Stanley Cup odds tracker, we know that their odds shortened immensely beforehand.

The Sharks were listed at an average of +1850 on September 10th, and they’re now available for +1100. On September 10th, the Sens were at +1600. We’ll continue to update our futures tracker as odds become available.

However, there’s now no doubt that San Jose has the most imposing d-corps in the NHL. Check out their depth:

San Jose Sharks Defensive Depth Chart

Left Defense Right Defense
Marc-Edouard Vlasic Erik Karlsson
Joakim Ryan Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon Justin Braun

That’s a video-game caliber defense corps, as Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns are the two most offensively capable defensemen in the NHL, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic is a top-3 shutdown d-man to boot. On any other team, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun would be in the top-4; being able to ice those two on the third-pair (or have them absorb a disproportionate time on the penalty kill) is a luxury bar none in the NHL.

San Jose now has the ability to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league, and they’ve gone from a middling playoff caliber team to a legitimate Stanley Cup contender in the course of an afternoon. This is all on the strength of yet another Doug Wilson coup, the same man who traded a package centered around Marco Strum for Joe Thornton in 2005; now, 13 years later, he’s done it again.

Projecting Karlsson’s Point Totals

Point Range Odds
85+ 12/1
80-84 7/1
75-79 4/1
70-74 3/2
65-69 7/1
Under 65 12/1

Given the fact that Karlsson is going to have to adjust to a new situation in San Jose (along with a grueling travel schedule) we’ll go with the “conservative” guess of between 70-74 points being the most likely outcome. However, Karlsson has the highest upside of any defenseman in the NHL, so don’t be surprised if his point totals are sky high, either. The lower projections are only there because an injury is always a possibility, but Karlsson has shown a consistent ability to stay healthy throughout his career.

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