TORONTO — The San Jose Sharks will listen if teams inquire about Erik Karlsson before the NHL Trade Deadline on March 3, said general manager Mike Grier, who will discuss any potential deal with the defenseman.
Karlsson has a no-trade clause in the eight-year contract he signed with the Sharks on June 17, 2019.
“I’ll listen, but at the end of the day too, a lot will depend on Erik too,” Grier said after the NHL GM meeting Tuesday. “He’s got the trade protection and [has control over] what he wants to do. I know right now he’s happy. He’s happy in San Jose. His family’s happy there. And we’re thrilled with how he’s playing.”
Karlsson leads NHL defensemen in goals (11) and points (28), and is tied for second among NHL skaters in points with Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (nine goals, 19 assists). The 32-year-old won the Norris Trophy twice, voted the NHL’s best defenseman with the Ottawa Senators in 2011-12 and 2014-15.
Video: [email protected]: Karlsson nets his 1st career hat trick
Asked on Thursday if he could see a situation in which he’d consider waiving the no-trade clause, Karlsson told the Mercury News, “Whenever that or if that question ever arises, it’s going to be between me and [Grier]and that’s it.
“So there’s no point in me even thinking about that or speculating about that. I’m fully invested here at the moment.”
The Sharks (6-10-3) have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past three seasons and are sixth in the Pacific Division. They had their three-game winning streak end Thursday in a 7-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
“I understand [Grier’s] comments,” Karlsson said. “He’s got an open mindset about everything regarding here, and he should. We haven’t been a good hockey team for a long time, and that’s the way it goes. I’m just lucky that I come from a place (Ottawa) where these [kinds of reports happen] on a regular basis, so I don’t read too much into it.
“I’ll let you guys debate and talk about it and whatnot. I’m just getting ready to play every game.”
Grier said, “He’s a dynamic player. To me, he’s probably one of the three best offensive defensemen in the League, and he’s been great for us. He’s done everything we’ve asked as far as preparation, practicing, playing. He’s been great.
“So maybe there’s a scenario where a team comes asking for him [in a trade], because I do think he’s a difference-maker. He’s someone who can go out there and win you a game — or win you a series, for that matter — so maybe something will come up down the road. We’ll see.”
Asked for the reasons behind Karlsson’s strong start, Grier mentioned health and a good state of mind. Grier said he and Karlsson have had good conversations since his hiring on July 5, and coach David Quinn traveled to Ottawa to visit with Karlsson after his hiring on July 26.
“I think it’s just been an open line of communication,” Grier said. “If he needs a day off or [has] things hockey-wise he wants to discuss, I think we’ve had open doors with him, and I think he just feels good about where he’s at personally in his life with his family and where he’s at with our relationship, where it’s kind of a pretty open back and forth, give and take.”
That will extend to any potential trade.
“I try and stay in touch with him throughout the week, whether it’s just having a cup of coffee or things like that at the practice facility or on the road,” Grier said. “[I] just try to make sure I’m in touch with him and seeing how he’s doing, him and some of our other veterans and things like that.
“Depending on how our season goes, I’ll try to be open and honest with those guys and keep them in the loop, and [I] also want their opinion on how they’re feeling and what they want to do as far as next steps in their career.”
Quinn said Thursday that he hasn’t talked to Karlsson about the subject and that “he and I have had plenty of conversations. I know how he feels about being here. This is pro sports and everybody looks at what’s going on in our situation and makes a lot of assumptions and they ask Mike questions.
“… I don’t make a big deal out of it. Mike and I haven’t had one conversation regarding moving any of these players, and Mike and I talk every day. But I get everybody’s questions to Mike, ‘What are you thinking about?’ I haven’t spent any time on it. Erik is in a good spot. He’s playing great hockey and we’re lucky to have him.”