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Kyle Dubas admits that the Leafs were serious players for Erik Karlsson during his reign as GM in Toronto

Published August 8, 2023 at 10:55
BY MIKE ARMENTI

This past weekend, the Pittsburgh Penguins, with a charge led by Kyle Dubas, acquired defenseman Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks in a high-profile deal that saw 9 players moved and 3 teams involved. It was undoubtedly the highest profile move of the summer and makes the Penguins a whole lot more dangerous this season.

Prior to Karlsson landing in Pittsburgh, there were reports that three additional teams were pushing to acquire the 3-time Norris Trophy winner, including Seattle, Carolina and Toronto. However, when Dubas met with the media on Monday to speak about the Karlsson deal, among other items, he actually revealed that his pursuit of Karlsson was a longer one than many would imagine.

"It was a fairly lengthy process that goes back to my previous employment." - Kyle Dubas on trying to acquire Karlsson since last season, while still GM of the Leafs

There's little doubt that the hang-up between the Leafs and Sharks must have been largely due to the salary cap. Karlsson's $11.5M cap hit was among the largest in the NHL and with the Leafs so close to the salary cap last season, any deal involving Karlsson would have meant that it would need to start at 50% salary retention from the Sharks (or possibly involving a 3rd team for additional retention purposes) in order to get the ball rolling. Still, it's very telling that Dubas has been impressed with Karlsson for quite some time if he was willing to try to negotiate such a complicated trade while still with the Leafs.


In the end, the Sharks were able to move Karlsson, retaining just $1.5M per season, dropping his cap hit to $10M in Pittsburgh and Kyle Dubas got his man. Still, it would have been nice to see what Karlsson might have been able to accomplish with the Leafs if Dubas had been successful in acquiring him last season instead of bringing him to Pittsburgh just a few short months later.

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Kyle Dubas admits that the Leafs were serious players for Erik Karlsson during his reign as GM in Toronto

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