Trade Grades: Sharks earn A- for Erik Karlsson heist

The deal:

Sharks get: D Erik Karlsson, LW Francis Perron

Senators get: C Chris Tierney, D Dylan DeMelo, LW Rudolfs Balcers, C Josh Norris, conditional 2019 second-round pick, conditional 2019/2020 first-round pick, conditional 2021 second-round pick


San Jose Sharks: A-

The Western Conference, and the Pacific Division specifically, is wide open. General manager Doug Wilson saw his peers signaling they're all in for 2018-19: Within the division alone, the Los Angeles Kings won the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes and the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty to prove last season was not a fluke. San Jose needed to keep up.

Wilson, forever the big-game hunter, missed out on most of his offseason prey (though he did re-sign Evander Kane). The Sharks got an audience with John Tavares, but no deal. Kovalchuk opted for the Kings. A trade for Pacioretty never materialized.

Enter Karlsson, a player the Sharks had been eyeing since last season's trade deadline. Wilson said in a Thursday statement that with "[Karlsson], Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, we feel we have three of the NHL's top defensemen" -- and honestly, that's no exaggeration. Since Karlsson entered the league in 2009-10, he and Burns are the league's top two point-producing defenseman. Imagine how scary the Sharks' power play will look with Karlsson in the fold.

Wilson fleeced Senators GM Pierre Dorion in flipping Mike Hoffman to the Panthers earlier this summer, and once again, he got the far better end of the deal here. The Sharks did lose roster players, but did not have to part with either Timo Meier or Ryan Merkley -- or even Tomas Hertl. There's no certainty Karlsson will stay after this season when his contract expires. But when you look at the firepower San Jose has now (Karlsson, Burns, Vlasic, Kane, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Hertl and Martin Jones ... oh my!) you see a team built to win now. In the wild Western Conference, that's all the Sharks needed to bank on right now. They'll figure out the rest later.


Ottawa Senators: D

You didn't need to watch Eugene Melnyk's bizarre "Between Two Sens" video to know this team is rebuilding. When it became clear Karlsson would not sign a contract extension in Ottawa, the team needed to move on. Yes, every team in the league would salivate at the chance to obtain Karlsson's services, but Ottawa lost a lot of leverage when everyone knew its captain wanted out.

Good on the Senators for making the move before the season, eliminating further distractions (the Karlsson saga did seem to weigh on teammates). And good on the Senators for acquiring six assets.

But that's about all the compliments I can offer for Ottawa. Tierney and DeMelo are fine roster players, but not game-changers. Tierney is coming off a career-best season, but isn't projected as a No. 1 center -- something the Senators may need if Matt Duchene leaves in free agency next summer (or earlier, via trade). DeMelo is still pretty cheap with a $900,000 cap hit this season and next, which is favorable for the budget-conscious Senators, but their defensive group is now one of the weakest in the league.

The Senators were also able to obtain a top prospect in Norris, but walking away without one of the Sharks' two blue-chip futures (Meier and Merkley, the latter of whom was likely a nonstarter in conversations) is a shame.

And after all the chatter about Bobby Ryan's albatross of a contract needing to be included in any deal with Karlsson, he's still on Ottawa's roster -- although he does help the Sens reach the cap floor.

Furthermore, the Senators -- without their own first-round pick in 2019 due to the Duchene trade last season -- will only get the Sharks' first-rounder if San Jose fails to qualify for the playoffs. The Sharks' first-rounder belongs to Buffalo as a result of last year's Kane trade if San Jose does make the postseason -- an outcome that became all the more likely after Thursday's deal.

The Senators can recoup a little more value from the trade, depending on a few conditions of where Karlsson ends up after his current deal is done. That might be enough to bump them to a C -- at best.

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