It required a three-team trade involving nine players, but Erik Karlsson is now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The San Jose Sharks sent the star blue-liner, prospect Dillon Hamaliuk, and a 2026 third-round pick to Steel City on Sunday in exchange for veteran forward Mikael Granlund, defenseman Jan Rutta, and a 2024 first-rounder (top-10 protected). The Montreal Canadiens received rearguard Jeff Petry, goaltender Casey DeSmith, winger Nathan Legare, and a 2025 second-round selection from Pittsburgh.
The Sharks are retaining $1.5 million of Karlsson’s $11.5-million cap hit. He has four years remaining on his pact. The Penguins, meanwhile, will retain 25% of Petry’s $6.25-million salary. He is under contract for the next two seasons.
Karlsson paced all defensemen this past season with 25 goals and 101 points while skating in all 82 games for the first time since 2015-16. He also became the first rearguard to hit the 100-point mark since Brian Leetch in 1991-92.
The 33-year-old took home his third career Norris Trophy in June as the league’s top defenseman. The last time the reigning Norris Trophy winner was traded in the offseason was in 1961 when the Habs sent Doug Harvey to the New York Rangers, per Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli.
Even with the retention, Karlsson now carries the highest cap hit ($10 million) on the Penguins. Pittsburgh shed around $3.1 million in cap space as a result of the trade, per CapFriendly, and is now approximately $80,000 over the cap. The Penguins can gain $6 million in relief with the ailing Jake Guentzel on long-term injured reserve to begin the season.
As for the rest of the Penguins’ haul, Hamaliuk was selected by the Sharks in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft. He put up four goals and three assists in six games with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder this past season. Pitlick, 26, recorded six tallies and 15 points in 46 contests with the Canadiens in 2022-23 and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer upon the expiry of his two-year, $2.2-million deal.
Despite shedding the bulk of Karlsson’s salary, San Jose added $2.25 million to its books with the trade and now has almost $4 million in cap space.
“While it is always difficult to trade a player of the caliber of Erik Karlsson, this trade accomplishes several goals for our franchise,” Sharks general manager Mike Grier said. “It adds two forwards to our roster who have proven ability to produce offensively at the NHL level and solidifies our NHL defense corps.
“Additionally, acquiring another first-round pick gives us the opportunity to continue fortifying our development system with high-end prospects and provides us some financial flexibility to add players as we see fit in the future.”
Granlund, 31, split the 2022-23 campaign with the Nashville Predators and Penguins, amassing 10 goals, 41 points, 78 hits, and 60 blocks in 79 outings. The bottom-six forward carries a cap hit of $5 million for the next two seasons.
Rutta logged nine points in 56 contests in 2022-23 while averaging just over 17 minutes of ice time. He spent the previous four seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, capturing back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2020 and 2021. The 33-year-old signed a three-year, $8.25-million deal with Pittsburgh as a free agent last summer.
Hoffman, meanwhile, potted 14 goals and 34 points in 67 games during his second campaign with the Canadiens. He’s eclipsed the 20-goal mark six times in his career. The 33-year-old can become an unrestricted free agent in 2024 and is under contract for $4.5 million.
The Habs are not retaining any of Pitlick’s or Hoffman’s salaries.
Petry spent eight seasons in Montreal and was part of the team’s miracle run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021. The 35-year-old chipped in with five goals and 26 helpers in 61 outings this past campaign while averaging the second-most ice time (22:21) among all Penguins skaters.
Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reports that there’s a “strong chance” the Canadiens will trade Petry, either before the season starts or at the trade deadline. His contract includes a 15-team no-trade list.
DeSmith, 31, appeared in 38 contests for the Penguins in 2022-23, posting a 15-16-4 record to go along with a .905 save percentage and 3.17 goals against average. He has spent his entire 134-game NHL career in Pittsburgh and is signed for one more year at a $1.8-million cap hit.
Legare, the last player involved in this deal, put up 19 points in 68 games in the AHL this past campaign. The 22-year-old was selected by the Penguins in the third round of the 2019 NHL Draft.
Montreal is currently $5.17 million over the cap, but it can get $10.5 million in relief with goaltender Carey Price on long-term injured reserve.
Karlsson’s name has been on the rumor mill since November when Grier said he would listen to offers for the blue-liner’s services. The Swede emphasized on multiple occasions that, though he enjoyed playing for the Sharks, he wanted to be moved to a contender.
The Penguins fired president of hockey operations Brian Burke and general manager Ron Hextall in April after failing to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06. They ultimately hired Kyle Dubas to fill both roles.
Karlsson hasn’t appeared in a playoff game since 2019, when the Sharks were eliminated by the St. Louis Blues in the conference finals. He spent five seasons with San Jose, accruing 243 points in 293 games.
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