The speculation is over already, as defenceman Erik Karlsson will remain with the San Jose Sharks over the long haul.
The Sharks re-signed their pending free agent to an eight-year deal worth $92 million Monday.
“I’m excited to continue the chase for the ultimate prize: the Stanley Cup,” Karlsson said. “Last year was an unbelievable run but we didn’t achieve what we set out to do. But the dedication I witnessed from my teammates, coaches, staff and organization showed me that we all have a great future ahead of us, and that we are capable of fighting for that championship year in and year out.”
The deal breaks down to an annual cap hit of $11.5 million, plus there is a complete no-movement clause.
“Players with Erik’s elite level of talent are rare and when they become available, it’s important to be aggressive in pursuing them,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said. “He is a difference maker who consistently makes the players around him better. We are pleased that he has been proactive in addressing his injury from last season and are looking forward to him being part of our organization for a long time to come.”
That injury hampered a lot of what might’ve been last season, Karlsson played through a groin issue but was still held to just 53 games with San Jose. He did produce 45 points in those 53 contests, however, and displayed flashes of brilliance throughout his debut season with the Sharks.
In 19 playoff games, he had 16 points and helped propel San Jose to the Western Conference Final. The Sharks lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champs in six games, but it was a hard-fought series against St. Louis.
Still, Karlsson was slowing down throughout the contest and was prone to defensive lapses thanks to his groin injury.
The defenceman had groin surgery on May 31 and is in line for a full recovery before next season, hence the lack of any hesitation on behalf of the Sharks to make Karlsson the wealthiest of any NHL defenceman. His new deal tops Drew Doughty’s eight-year extension from last summer, which was for a paltry $88 million.
The Sharks now boast three of the most effective defencemen in the league – Karlsson, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic – and you can bet their combinations will keep them in the Cup hunt for years to come. The three are signed through 2024-2025 at least and account for $26.5 million of San Jose’s cap expenditures.
The Sharks will now turn their attention to Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. The captain is a pending UFA and something will have to be in place soon if they want to avoid him testing the open market. And Thornton still has a decision to make about his future.
(Photo credit: AP Photo/Josie Lepe)