Winning Play: Deadline rumblings

At least in San Jose, they know who Erik Karlsson is.

The city and its fans might just get to know him better over the next eight years.

In November, I relayed rumblings that Karlsson was feeling some discontent in San Jose. Since then, I’ve been able to corroborate that rumor.

Meanwhile, however, Karlsson has warmed to his surroundings. The San Jose Sharks going 25-8-3 since Karlsson’s disastrous return to Ottawa on Dec. 1 has no doubt played a part.

It’s my educated guess that it’s fair to remain optimistic about Karlsson’s return.

Of course, today is also the first day that Karlsson can ink an eight-year extension with the Sharks.

Does Karlsson’s potential return spell the end of Joe Pavelski’s tenure in teal?

Not necessarily. This is a prospective path to keeping both Karlsson and Pavelski:

(currently unsigned players are italicized)

It’ll be tight and Pavelski will have to cooperate too. In the midst of a career year, I can’t guess either way whether Pavelski is willing to forego some of what he’s earned just to stay in Silicon Valley.

The road to keeping both Pavelski and Karlsson will require sacrifices, perhaps along a currently deep blueline. It won’t surprise you to learn that San Jose has shopped Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan recently. It might surprise you to learn that Justin Braun has been shopped too. Ultimately, a Sharks squad in win-now mode may not part with anybody on the current roster by today’s Trade Deadline, but they’re certainly also thinking about cap space beyond this season.

At least one scout from another team that I spoke with was still high on Ryan, despite his recent lack of playing time. This scout believed that Ryan can still be a very solid third-pairing defenseman, which sounds like faint praise, but was his way of saying that Ryan is a clear NHL player just caught in a numbers game in San Jose.

Radim Simek’s emergence is also a big reason why San Jose can consider shedding some of its more expensive depth defenders; he also appears to be a better fit with Brent Burns than Ryan.

However, Karlsson’s re-aggravation of his groin injury may have changed plans to tinker with the defense right now.

Meanwhile, up front, Doug Wilson certainly made a giant splash last night by trading for Gustav Nyquist. Beforehand, there was every indication that San Jose was looking to add to their forward depth. Wilson may be done here.

Between the pipes, the recent Ryan Miller rumor appears as if it will remain unfulfilled. That, however, doesn’t change the intelligence of considering an upgrade in goal.

It’s not about replacing Martin Jones — we get it, he’s the starter, locked to a long-term deal and is a proven playoff performer — it’s about insurance, in case Jones gets hurt or falters.

I suspect Aaron Dell’s play yesterday afternoon in a 5-3 victory against the Detroit Red Wings didn’t assuage concerns with the goaltending.

My guess is Wilson isn’t done. We’ll find out soon enough!