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Can the Penguins get an Erik Karlsson trade completed?

Pittsburgh wants Erik Karlsson, but can they get a complex trade done?

San Jose Sharks v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

The fourth of July is over, but the NHL still could have some fireworks ready to pop off regarding the trade situation with Erik Karlsson. The Norris trophy winner and rare 100-point defenseman is looking to move on from San Jose, and they’re looking to start fresh.

According to Elliotte Friedman on his recent 32 Thoughts podcast (detail below, in case twitter is acting up again), the Sharks might be prepared to retain a large, large chunk of his salary cap hit to make a trade happen.

Friedman on 32TP says when the Sharks talked to the Oilers about Erik Karlsson last season, they were willing to eat 18-20% of his salary. Friedman says he feels in order to move Erik Karlsson, maybe the Sharks can’t do 50%, but they might have to go closer to 40% than 20%.

Friedman says the Penguins don’t want to trade Marcus Pettersson this summer around (and for good reason!) but will have to figure out another way.

That’s largely because Karlsson has four seasons remaining on an $11.5 million cap hit. 20% of that would be $2.3 million, leaving a $9.2m hit for his acquiring team is SJ eats that much. 35% would be just north of $4 million, which means if Friedman’s reporting comes to pass, SJ will likely be taking on somewhere in the range of $3 million, give or take to move Karlsson on.

The Penguins are, once again, tight to the salary cap or maybe even over it at the moment - so if they bring Karlsson in for any amount at a $7.5m, $8.0m, $8.5m or $9.0m cap hit, they’ll likely have to send out that much salary in return.

Therein lies the tricky part - especially when considering a player like Jeff Petry (and his $6.25 million cap hit, that suddenly gets pretty close to Karlsson’s traded cap hit) has a 15-team no trade clause. Not to mention a building team like San Jose has no need for a veteran, expensive and somewhat fading defender in the first place.

Finding a third team to help facilitate the trade then becomes likely the focal point and key to culminating the potential Karlsson to Pittsburgh trade. It also shows why such a move hasn’t happened yet and has been dragging on for almost a week now. There aren’t many teams with the cap space, need and desire to absorb Petry at this time. Makes it tough.

But when there’s a will, there can be a way. If the Pens get the opportunity to move along a salary like Jan Rutta, Mikael Granlund or Casey DeSmith (among others), every little bit will go a long way towards the goal. Because at this point it looks like the goal is to bring Erik Karlsson to help boost the Pens’ core.

The Sharks look like a very willing seller, and Karlsson holds the cards with a full no movement clause. Can the Pens get it over the line? It will be tough and likely require multiple teams and sending away players to do so, but as the summer’s initial burst settles down, we’ll see if there’s a creative way to make it happen.