Four Erik Karlssons? Not quite, but Predators’ vaunted D poses toughest test yet for Penguins

Cracking one Erik Karlsson is tough enough. But four of him? Good luck.

Talk out of Pittsburgh ahead of Monday’s Stanley Cup Final opener has centered on how, exactly, the high-powered Penguins offense will fare against a vaunted Predators blue line that indiscriminately shut down its opponents’ top forwards while cutting through the Western Conference. It’s the matchup that should make for an intriguing series.

The trade winds have been swirling around the Avalanche and Matt Duchene for some time now. It makes little sense for both player and team to enter another season with a malcontent on the roster, so it’s high time a deal gets done. Yet here we are.

Avs GM Joe Sakic is asking a lot: a young defenseman plus some combination of top prospects or draft picks and possibly the moon.

The Islanders reportedly offered Travis Hamonic and a first-rounder, but that ship has sailed. Montreal remains a suitor, especially after Radulov’s departure, but may no longer have the assets to meet those demands with Mikhail Sergachev now in Tampa. Columbus is in hot pursuit as well and would seem to be the best fit.

Though Sakic has every reason to hold out for the right return for his 26-year-old star, his rivals can play the waiting game, too.

It was a huge win for the Capitals, who were bounced from the playoffs by the Penguins in the second round of last year’s playoffs before Pittsburgh went on to win the Stanley Cup.

He checks a lot of boxes for us, Flames general manager Brad Treliving said after sending multiple draft picks, including a 2018 first-rounder and a pair of future second-round selections, to New York for the 26-year-old Hamonic.

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