Erik Karlsson’s first season in San Jose was a mixed bag. The superstar d-man put up 0.85 points per game, but he was hurt all year, and was in and out of the lineup late in the season, including in the playoffs. If the Sharks didn’t get the best display of exactly what their team looks like with him, they saw enough.
Update: Here are the exact terms of Karlsson’s deal:
.The biggest free agent is off the market, with an extension that appears to match that of the Kings’ Drew Doughty last summer. That’s a lot of years and a lot of money for a guy whose best and healthiest seasons may already be behind him—and Karlsson will be 37 by the end of this deal—but that’s what it was going to take to sign him, and a team with Erik Karlsson is significantly better than one without.
But (man, there sure are a lot of buts for a deal that locks down one of the league’s best defensemen for the rest of his career) there’s also the opportunity cost to consider. $11.5M for Karlsson is $11.5M less to spread around the rest of the roster, which includes free agents Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi, and Gustav Nyquist, as well as RFAs Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc, both of whom are probably in line for raises.
The Sharks are likely counting on the cap going up significantly when the new CBA and new U.S. TV deal come in in the next couple of years—or maybe another round of amnesty buyouts—but some big changes are no doubt in store in San Jose. One way or another, the decision to commit to Karlsson is going to prove pivotal.