Report: Pavelski linked to Western Conference rival in free agent talks

Could Little Joe actually leave the Bay Area?

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In case you missed it, the San Jose Sharks officially inked superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson to a historic eight year contract worth a cool $92 million.

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Karlsson’s new deal carries a whopping $11.5 million cap hit, making him the highest paid defenseman in NHL history.

With the Karlsson negotiations done and dusted the Sharks now have just $12.5 million to re-sign captain Joe Pavelski, forwards Joe Thornton, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Gustav Nyquist, Joonas Donskoi and defenseman Joakim Ryan. Yikes… that’s not much money to go around and now many analysts are wondering whether or not the Sharks will be able to retain the services of Pavelski, specifically.

Chicago Blackhawks insider Mark Lazerus whipped Hawks fans into a frenzy earlier this week when he linked the Sharks’ captain and pending free agent to Chicago.

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Assuming Pavelski receives a modest raise on his $6 million annual salary, he likely prices himself out of a return to the Bay Area. 

From Lazerus himself:

I’ve heard from a couple of league sources that Pavelski is intrigued by the idea of coming to Chicago should he leave San Jose (a big if, to be sure), and he’d be a great short-term fit in the top six. He can be Jonathan Toews’ right wing, and he can still step in at center when needed. Sure, he’s turning 35 next month. He also just scored 38 goals. There’s plenty of life left in Captain America.

Interesting… of course, it all comes down to the cap hit. If the 35 year old is looking for big dollars AND big term however, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman would be wise to pass.