The San Jose Sharks could be one of the most intriguing teams to watch as the NHL's March 3 trade deadline approaches.
Near the bottom of the Western Conference and looking like a team in need of a rebuild, they could be big-time sellers with two of the biggest names who might be available.
Forward Timo Meier—a pending restricted free agent—figures to be available for the right price, while veteran defenseman Erik Karlsson could also be on the trading block if the Sharks look to kickstart a rebuild.
If San Jose parts ways with Karlsson, it could be a massive and complicated deal.
He has an $11.5 million yearly salary-cap hit for the next four full seasons and the ability to control where he goes with a no-trade clause. That cap hit, as well as Karlsson's leverage, will certainly limit the number of realistic options.
But any team that can figure out a way to fit his contract should be willing to explore any and all options. Even though Karlsson is in his age-32 season, he has reestablished himself as one of the league's elite players and is having a historically great season offensively, looking to become the first defenseman in 31 years to top the 100-point mark. He would make an impact on any contender.
That is also what could make a trade enticing for Karlsson. The only thing he has not done in his career is win a Stanley Cup, and he is probably not going to get that opportunity with San Jose. If he wants to take what may be his best shot at one while he is still playing at an elite level, a trade is the way to go.
So with that in mind, here is an updated look at a few teams that make sense as potential landing spots for Karlsson.
Why not start with something wild but also wildly fun?
Karlsson might not make the Buffalo Sabres a Stanley Cup team this season—they are not even a lock to make the playoffs—but what a shot in the arm this would be for Buffalo.
The Sabres have leaped forward this season and inserted themselves in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. They are also swimming in salary-cap space and are one of the few teams that could actually fit Karlsson under the cap with relative ease. Buffalo has money coming off the books with Kyle Okposo, Zemgus Girgensons and Craig Anderson pending unrestricted free agents, and it has one of the deepest prospect pools in the league from which to trade.
A deal for Karlsson would give the Sabres a nightmare of a defense with 2018 and 2021 No. 1 overall picks Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power already in place as well as the incredibly underrated Mattias Samuelsson.
The Sabres have been an afterthought in the NHL for more than a decade. They have a chance to change that in the very near future.
A Karlsson trade would not be about just this season. He could make a huge difference in a year or two, though.