The San Jose Sharks acquired two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, making a blockbuster addition to the roster after missing out on high-scoring center John Tavares in free agency.
General manager Doug Wilson stood pat for most of the summer after Tavares signed with Toronto before pouncing when another superstar was available the day before San Jose opened training camp. Karlsson joins one of the top defensive groups in the league alongside 2017 Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns and shutdown defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
"It's extremely rare that players of this caliber become available," Wilson said. "The word 'elite' is often thrown around casually but Erik's skillset and abilities fit that description like few other players in today's game. With Erik, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, we feel we have three of the NHL's top defensemen and stand as a better team today than we were yesterday. We are thrilled to welcome Erik and his wife, Melinda, to San Jose."
San Jose is sending the Senators a first-round pick in 2019 or 2020, a second-round pick in 2019, forwards Chris Tierney, Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers, defenseman Dylan DeMelo and two conditional draft picks. The Sharks also get forward Francis Perron.
Ottawa also gets a second-round pick in 2021 if Karlsson re-signs with the Sharks. That pick becomes a first if the Sharks make the Stanley Cup Final in 2019. The Senators also will receive a first-rounder in 2021 or 2022 if Karlsson is on an Eastern Conference roster this season.
"Ultimately, to acquire a player like this, you have to give to get and we are losing some quality players but also some very good people," Wilson said. "All of the players leaving our organization have a very bright future in this league and we wish them all the best."
Karlsson, 28, has one year left on his contract and has been the subject of rumors dating to the trade deadline. The Senators finally got a deal done on the eve of training camp.
In Karlsson, whose 518 points are by far the most of any defenseman since he entered the NHL in 2009, San Jose gets the difference-maker it was hoping for when it pursued Tavares in free agency. Karlsson won the Norris as the league's best defenseman in 2012 and 2015.
"This is the right moment for us to rebuild our team, and shape our future with a faster, younger and more competitive team on the ice," Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said. "We are going to build a culture of consistency which will allow this team to sustain better performance over the long term."
Karlsson had nine goals and 53 assists last season for Ottawa. He also led the team in average ice time (26:44, 3rd in the NHL), was second in blocked shots (120) and takeaways (55) and second in scoring with 62 points (nine goals, 53 assists).
Karlsson also has six goals and 31 assists in 48 career playoff games.
It's just the latest big trade made by Wilson, who has also acquired Joe Thornton, Burns and Evander Kane in trades over the years.
The Sharks made the addition without giving up a top-six forward or top-four defenseman. The 24-year-old Tierney played the biggest role for San Jose of any of the players traded to Ottawa, spending much of the year as a third-line center. He had career highs with 17 goals and 23 assists and played all 82 games. He has 41 goals and 63 assists in 284 career games.
DeMelo played mostly on San Jose's third defensive pair last season when he had no goals and 20 assists in 63 games.
Balcers spent last season in the AHL and Norris was a first-round pick in 2017 and entering his sophomore season at Michigan.
Perron was a seventh-round pick in 2014 and spent the past two seasons in the AHL.