While hockey fans sit on their hands and await the Stanley Cup Final next week, San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson wonders where he will play next season as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time of his career in July.
Karlsson hasn’t ruled out signing with the Sharks to remain in California, it feels like the team might not be willing to commit long-term to the former Norris trophy winner.
Curtis Pashelka of The San Jose Mercury News wonders whether the Sharks will even consider offering a long-term deal to Karlsson, after the defenseman missed significant time do to injury in the regular season and returned at less than full strength for the playoffs.
“Maybe the best defenseman in the world, or in that conversation,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said of Karlsson after the team’s WCF elimination. “We had him healthy for six weeks and dialed in. The first two months of the season, he was getting used to us, two and a half, I thought he got dialed…and we were maybe the best team in the league in that stretch. And then he wasn’t healthy again.”
The Sharks have $58.3 million committed to the cap for next season with 15 players under contract and most insiders don’t believe the injuries to Karlsson will affect his value on the market.
Therefore, the Sharks might simply decide to step out and let other teams, like the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, put up a fight and throw by money and term at Karlsson.
It will be an interesting summer on the free-agent market, once again!