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Steered Clear


It's already been an interesting off-season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the signings of guys like Max Domi, Tyler Bertuzzi and John Klingberg. While I'm sure the team has yet to finish making moves before the start of the regular season, there is one player I think management was well within their right to steer clear of looking to acquire. That is Erik Karlsson.

Recently, it was confirmed the current San Jose Sharks defenceman has had conversations with the Leafs, as well as the Hurricanes, Penguins and Kraken. But I don't see Karlsson being a fit for the current Leafs roster.

For starters, the Leafs already have players on the team who bring the skillset Karlsson has. The recently signed Klingberg is similar to Karlsson, in that both bring an offensive approach to the position, with little focus on the defensive aspects of it. Then, of course, there's Morgan Rielly, who has put up 10 and 20-goal seasons for the Leafs in the past and scored four goals in 11 games in Toronto's last playoff run.

There's also the money aspect. Karlsson is paid $11.5 million per year, a number a team like the Leafs would have real trouble fitting into their salary cap. With the team currently projected to be at least a couple million dollars over the salary cap, when long-term injury reserve allocations are made, the Leafs need to shed some money before the season starts, not take on another large contract. Plus, Sharks general manager, Mike Grier made it clear he was not going to retain 50 percent of Karlsson's contract in any trade.

In addition, there's the age factor to take into consideration. Yes, Karlsson surprised many people last season with his 25-goal, 101-point output, but he's also 33 years old. For context, most professional hockey players start to see their skills and output diminish the further into their 30s they go. 'Father Time' plays a role in bodies which have experienced many injuries in a contact sport. Acquiring Karlsson would be a risk, in this regard, given his current contract has four years left.

Erik Karlsson would be a flashy addition to any NHL team. However, it just didn't make any sense for the Leafs to trade for him at this present time.

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