The San Jose Sharks and veteran defender Erik Karlsson have agreed to terms on an eight-year contract extension worth over $90 million, according to Pierre LeBrun. As Bob McKenzie mentions, the deal is worth roughly $11.5 million per season and makes him the third-highest paid player in the NHL behind only Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews.
This deal will also trigger a condition sending a 2021 second-round pick from San Jose to Ottawa.
Karlsson just completed his first year in San Jose and scored three goals and 45 points in just 53 games. He’d also play in 19 postseason games and led all players in assists throughout the playoffs with 14 until he and the Sharks were eliminated. In the end, he’d behind only Alex Pietrangelo (16), Torey Krug (16) and Ryan O’Reilly (15).
Despite Karlsson’s success in his first season in San Jose coupled with a long postseason run, this year didn’t come without obstacles for the Landsbro, Sweden-native.
Numerous injuries hampered his 2018-19 season and limited him to only 53 games. While he produced points at a torrid pace in both the regular and postseason, he did so while badly banged up for the most part and immediately underwent surgery during the offseason.
As the Sharks mentioned, the surgery wasn’t expected to require any missed time for the 2019-20 season and it would appear that wasn’t just talk as the team committed for the long-term with the 29-year-old defender.
Karlsson is Among the NHL’s Elite
While many talk about McDavid and Sidney Crosby as the best players in the NHL without much room for anybody else in the discussion, Karlsson is often left out of the mix due to his position. It’s easy to overlook his success from the back-end as he isn’t putting up 30-goals or 100-points a season. At the same time, though, the consistency in which Karlsson produces double-digit goals (including upwards of 20) and upwards of 60, 70 and even 80 points is so rare in the modern NHL.
Karlsson is also an above-average defender and doesn’t get enough credit for what he does without the puck in his own zone.
The Sharks paid the price to acquire Karlsson last offseason when they sent Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris, Rudolfs Balcers, a conditional 2020 first-round pick and a conditional 2020 second-round pick to acquire Karlsson. In the end, they loved what they saw and paid the price to retain him as well.
Sharks Have Busy Offseason in Store
The Sharks have some major offseason decisions to make with captain Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Gustav Nyquist, Joonas Donskoi, Micheal Haley and Tim Heed sitting as unrestricted free agents heading into July 1. Additionally, the team has Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Dylan Gambrell and Ryan Joakim as restricted free agents heading into the new league year.
Signing Karlsson was an investment into long-term contention, but the Sharks will now have to figure out if they can retain other important pieces of their franchise to build around a core that features Karlsson, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane as the main pieces.
This Karlsson deal is also so notable because they already have $15 million per season committed to Burns (34 years old) and Vlasic (32 years old) through the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons respectively. Adding in Karlsson and the team will have three defenders over the age of 30 accounting for $26 million of their salary cap for the long-term starting with the 2020-21 season.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.