- The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired defenseman Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks in a three team deal.
- Despite Karlsson’s status as the reigning Norris Trophy winner, the move was met with indifference in the NHL futures betting marketplace.
- Pittsburgh opened as a +2200 choice at BetOnline to win the Stanley Cup and that’s where they are now.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to try and win another Stanley Cup with Sidney Crosby and an aging roster. That was essentially the commitment they made to Crosby a couple of years ago–that they would remain competitive until he retires. They’ve added another offensive weapon in the form of defenseman Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks in a complex three way deal that also involved the Montreal Canadiens. San Jose picks up forward Mikael Granlund and Jan Rutta while Montreal acquires goaltender Casey DeSmith, defenseman Jeff Petry, prospect Nathan Legare and a 2025 second round draft pick. San Jose retains $1.5 million USD of Karlsson’s $11.5 million USD annual salary through 2027. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, picks up $1.56 million of Petry’s salary.
The addition of Karlsson should improve the Penguins’ offensive output and will almost certainly pay dividends on the power play. It doesn’t address the issues in their own end at all. Statistically speaking, the Penguins were mediocre in all phases of the game last season. They were #16 in goals scored per game (3.18), #14 in power play percentage (21.7%), #19 in goals against per game (3.21) and #16 on the penalty kill (79.1%).
Since Pittsburgh missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005-2006, there is a compelling case to be made that multiple issues need to be addressed. It’s unclear how many boxes were checked by the Karlsson deal, but it’s difficult to see how his addition makes the team better defensively. The offense should improve, but that’s only half the battle in putting together a winning hockey team.
The Karlsson acquisition was met with the proverbial ‘outpouring of apathy’ by the NHL betting public. ‘Complete indifference’ could be a more appropriate term. When BetOnline.ag posted the 2024 Stanley Cup futures immediately after the 2023 cup was awarded, the Penguins were priced at +2200. After a number of high profile moves on and off the ice–the hiring of Kyle Dubas as the Penguins’ GM/President of Hockey operations, the longterm extension signed by goaltender Tristan Jarry and Karlsson’s acquisition being the most prominent–there has been no movement whatsoever in Pittsburgh’s future odds. They’re currently priced at +2200.
The Eastern Conference is loaded with good teams ‘in their prime’ as well as a number of younger teams showing marked improvement like Buffalo and Ottawa. There’s just so many playoff spots to go around. While ‘just making the playoffs’ isn’t the Penguins’ goal it *is* a pre-requisite to winning the Stanley Cup. I’d be more inclined to take a position offering more value than the ‘Pens to win the cup’. I have little confidence in this team and like the ‘No’ on the ‘Will Pittsburgh make the playoffs’ prop. The ‘Yes’ is -175, the ‘No’ priced at +145.