Sharks Re-sign Erik Karlsson
The San Jose Sharks re-signed defenseman Erik Karlsson to an eight-year contract extension. The annual average value is reportedly worth over $11 million.
UPDATE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s an eight-year deal worth $92 million, with an annual average value of $11.5 million. It also contains a full no-movement clause throughout the term of the contract. He’ll receive $53 million in total signing bonuses, with $39 million in base salary. Karlsson will receive $14.5 million in actual salary in 2019-20, after which it’ll decline each year to reach $7.5 million by the final season of the deal (2026-27).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson would’ve been the biggest name in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. The deal is comparable to the eight-year, $88-million extension Drew Doughty signed last summer with the Los Angeles Kings. Karlsson will likely become the NHL’s highest-paid defenseman.
On the one hand, this seems like a fair deal for one of the league’s elite defensemen. Karlsson is a two-time winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy. He also captained an underdog Ottawa Senators club to within an overtime goal of reaching the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.
Despite being sidelined this season by a nagging groin injury, the 29-year-old Karlsson netted 45 points in 53 games with the Sharks, along with 16 points in 19 postseason contests. He should remain a key member of their core and keep them among the Cup contenders.
On the other hand, Karlsson’s been plagued by injuries over the last two years. He required foot surgery following the 2017 postseason and still felt the after-effects following his return to the Senators last season. While still a game-changing rearguard when healthy this season, he missed considerable time. That groin injury also kept him from Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, which saw the Sharks eliminated by the St. Louis Blues.
For the Sharks to get their money’s worth, Karlsson must play at a Norris-contending level throughout most of this contract. Given his age and recent injury history, that’s no longer a certainty.
In the meantime, Karlsson’s new contract takes a big bite out of the Sharks’ salary-cap payroll. Before the signing, Cap Friendly indicated the Sharks had nearly $59 million tied up in 15 players. Karlsson’s new deal pushes that to around $70 million. Assuming a projected cap of $83 million, the Sharks will have roughly $13 million in cap room.
That won’t leave much to re-sign long-time Sharks forwards Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, due to become UFAs on July 1. Restricted free agent forwards Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc will be seeking significant raises.
To retain those four, the Sharks will have to shed salary. Otherwise, they’ll have to cut ties with Pavelski and possibly Thornton. It could become an interesting summer in San Jose.