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Report: A surprising new contender enters Karlsson sweepstakes

This will really shake things up come July 1st!

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The dirt still hasn’t been thrown onto the coffin of the 2018-19 San Jose Sharks season and there’s already speculation about whether or not superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson will return to the team for next season. Karlsson, of course, is a pending unrestricted free agent and stands to cash in HUGE this offseason with his next contract.

Will that contract be with the Sharks though? Or will it be elsewhere? "Scuttlebutt around the organization is that (Karlsson) likes the Sharks and the Bay Area," ESPN's Greg Wyshynski wrote following the Sharks’ Game 6 loss last night, "yet there has always been speculation that he could return back east.”

Karlsson has been linked to the Tampa Bay Lightning for well over a calendar year now, but Wyshynki thinks that a surprise Eastern Conference contender will be there to make a strong pitch on July 1st: the New York Rangers. 

Say what!? Check it out:

“…the loudest chatter during the playoffs was a potential match with old friend Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. Needless to say, the 28-year-old remains the elite of the elite when he's healthy, and would be a foundational asset for the Sharks. But after the playoffs, his health can't be trusted or assumed."

So… the Rangers are just in on everyone now? Karlsson AND Artemi Panarin? Where there’s smoke there’s fire?