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. 

The San Jose Sharks re-sign Erik Karlsson to an eight-year contract extension (Photo via NHL Images).

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. 

NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2019

The latest Penguins, Bruins, Senators, Capitals, and Flyers speculation, plus an update on Nikita Zaitsev, in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: In the wake of the Penguins trading Olli Maatta to Chicago for Dominik Kahan and a draft pick, Ron Cook believes there’s more work to do. Trading Maatta won’t return them to Stanley Cup contender status or resolve their team chemistry. General manager Jim Rutherford last week said he’d welcome back Phi Kessel. Cook, however, believes Rutherford is still trying to trade the winger.

Patric Hornqvist’s age, concussion history, and his lengthy contract make him difficult to move. Blueliner Kris Letang has as 12-team no-trade list, and Evgeni Malkin has a full no-movement clause. Cook considers Malkin the least likely to be traded but doesn’t rule it out if the right deal can be found. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel recently spiked a deal that would’ve sent him to Minnesota for winger Jason Zucker. If Rutherford wants to move the winger he must convince him to broaden his eight-team trade list.  I don’t see Hornqvist, Letang or Malkin going anywhere. 


NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty recently suggested defenseman Torey Krug and center David Krejci could become Boston Bruins’ trade bait. Krug, 28, is a year away from unrestricted free agent status and coming off a strong performance this season. Haggerty thinks he’d be the bait the Bruins need to land a top-six power forward but they’ll have to carefully consider that option.

Haggerty also feels Krejci is now at his peak value and could attract interest in the trade market. Moving his $7.25-million annual average value would clear up some potential salary-cap complications.

Could Boston Bruins center David Krejci become a cost-cutting trade candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have a projected $14.3 million in salary-cap space. Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are coming off entry-level contracts. Their new deals could eat up most of that cap room. They could buy out David Backes but would see only $333K in cap savings for 2019-20.

Krejci’s no-movement clause reverts to a modified no-trade on July 1. That could make him easier to shop. But after coming so close to winning the Stanley Cup this season, GM Don Sweeney could be reluctant to move Krug or Krejci. 


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples observes conflicting speculation out of Toronto linking Maple Leafs blueliner Nikita Zaitsev to the Oilers. He notes TSN’s Darren Dreger last week suggesting the Oilers and Vancouver Canucks could have interest in Zaitsev, a third-pairing rearguard earning second-pairing dollars ($4.5 million annually). Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman countered he’s heard the Oilers aren’t going down that route.

However, The Athletic’s James Mirtle considers Edmonton the top destination. He wondered if packaging Zaitsev with Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson would bring Adam Larsson to Toronto.

Staples doesn’t believe the Oilers would agree to that deal. “However you slice it, Edmonton can’t afford to have another big contract from a player who isn’t a top performer, not with Milan Lucic already on the books and Andrej Sekera, Kris Russell and Mikko Koskinen all iffy propositions.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m with Staples on this one. There’s a better chance of Lucic getting traded to Vancouver for Loui Eriksson than a package of Zaitsev and Kapanen or Johnsson going to Edmonton for Larsson. And I think Lucic-for-Eriksson is a long shot. 


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien points out the Washington Capitals’ limited salary-cap space following their re-signing of Carl Hagelin yesterday. They now have around $10.7 million in projected salary-cap room. Their restricted free agents include Jakub Vrana and Andre Burakovsky while Brett Connolly, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Brooks Orpik are unrestricted. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith-Pelly isn’t expected to be re-signed. NBC Sports Washington’s J.J.Regan believes their acquisition last week of Radko Gudas spells the end of Orpik’s tenure with the Capitals.

Vrana’s going to be re-signed and I think they want to keep Connolly if he’ll agree to accept less than market value. Burakovsky’s frequently come up in trade rumors this season and could be moved if things get tight cap-wise. 


COURIER-POST ONLINE: Dave Isaac reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher has spoken with some teams regarding a potential trade for a backup goalie. Fletcher suggests that search could go into the upcoming free-agency period. It doesn’t sound like pending UFAs Brian Elliott and Cam Talbot will be back. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade options could including James Reimer of the Florida Panthers and Garret Sparks of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both are reportedly being shopped by their respective clubs. 


OTTAWA SUN: Given the Senators’ blueline depth, Bruce Garrioch wouldn’t be surprised if they put defenseman Ben Harpur on the trade block. His size and affordable $725K one-way contract could make him an attractive option. The Senators also wouldn’t mind moving veteran winger Mikkel Boedker. He has a year left on his contract with a $4-million cap hit. They’re also expected to qualify the rights of restricted free agents Cody Ceci, Colin White, and Anthony Duclair. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2019

The Capitals re-sign Carl Hagelin, the Ducks hire Dallas Eakins as their head coach, the latest on P.K. Subban, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NBC WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday re-signed winger Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11-million contract extension. Hagelin, 30, was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. 

Washington Capitals re-sign winger Carl Hagelin (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired days before the February trade deadline, he proved to be a solid addition to the Capitals. Hagelin collected 14 points in 20 regular-season games and provided a welcome boost to their penalty kill. The contract term is a little long but the annual average value is an affordable $2.75 million. 

Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals now have just over $10.7 million in projected cap space for 2019-20. That complicates efforts to re-sign forwards Jakub Vrana, Brett Connolly, and Andre Burakovsky. I’ll have more on this later this morning in the rumors section. 

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: The Anaheim Ducks are expected to name Dallas Eakins as their new head coach as soon as today or Tuesday. A former head coach with the Edmonton Oilers, Eakins spent the past four seasons coaching the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the report indicates, Eakins was the favorite for the job all along. His work with their farm club earned him a return gig to the NHL. 

NBC SPORTS: Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban “cut a promo” with actor/former pro wrestling star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on the set of his HBO series “Ballers.” 

SPORTSNET: As discussions on a new collective bargaining agreement continue between the NHL and NHLPA, escrow remains the top concern for the players. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Escrow isn’t going anywhere and the players understand this. What they want is a system of calculation that doesn’t fluctuate as wildly and claws back as much from their salaries.

Adjustments, however, will affect the 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues between the team owners and the players. That will have to be addressed before a new agreement can be reached. 

NHL Betting Recap and Early 2020 Stanley Cup Odds


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 16, 2019

Latest on Jacob Trouba, Kevin Hayes, James Neal, Nikita Zaitsev, and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the New York Rangers and New York Islanders are among up to a dozen clubs aggressively pursuing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba. He also said the New Jersey Devils were in the hunt. He cites sources claiming the Jets haven’t given Trouba’s agent permission yet to speak with other clubs. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer and a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

The New York Rangers and New York Islanders are reportedly interested in Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (Photo via NHL Images).

Compared to the Isles and Devils, Brooks feels the Rangers could lack the expendable depth in prospects and young talent the Jets could command for Trouba. Facing a potential salary-cap crunch this summer, the Jets are believed seeking “a first-rounder and a pair of legitimate prospects or young NHLers in return.” Brooks also believes the cost of re-signing Trouba could be a seven-year deal worth up to $7.5-million annually.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Pittsburgh Penguins are interested in Trouba but it’s hard to see a match. He wonders if shipping Trouba to the Philadelphia Flyers for Shayne Gostisbehere would make any sense, though he notes Gostisbehere isn’t a right-handed shot.  He also noted Trouba has a home in Florida but isn’t sure the Panthers want to pay the price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s an expectation Trouba will be traded by the end of the NHL Draft next weekend, if not sooner. Some fans don’t believe he’s worth a hefty return or the big contract. He’s a 25-year-old top-pairing defenseman coming off a career-high 50-point performance. The Jets will get a big return if they trade him and he will get an expensive new contract wherever he plays. The question is, which team gets him?

It’s not surprising to see the Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Flyers, and Panthers linked to Trouba. He’s also been tied to the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings. The only certainty is he won’t be traded to a Canadian franchise. When his agent requested a trade during their contract standoff in 2016, the preferred destinations were American. 


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites a source claiming there’s mutual interest between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes. The Flyers hold his exclusive negotiating rights until the UFA interview period opens on June 23. However, a source close to Hayes claims it’s unlikely he’ll sign with the Flyers.

The same source said the Bruins were close to acquiring him before the Rangers shipped him to Winnipeg at the trade deadline. Murphy feels pursuing Hayes would make sense if the Bruins decide to trade center David Krejci this summer.

SPORTSNET: Friedman wonders if the Philadelphia Flyers are willing to pay between $6.5 million to $7 million annually to sign Kevin Hayes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci has a full no-movement clause until July 1, when it reverts to a modified no-trade where he provides a list of half of the teams in the league he would accept being traded to. If the Bruins trade Krejci I can see them pursuing Hayes. However, I doubt Krejci will be on the move. I expect GM Don Sweeney will try to keep his core intact for one more push for the Cup next season.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs asking price for defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is another blueliner or a return that will help them land one. He also believes there’s plenty of options if they decide to move center Nazem Kadri, though the Winnipeg Jets are on his no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zaitsev’s contract ($4.5 million annually through 2023-24) is a sticking point. Kadri would attract interest but the Leafs could be reluctant to move him despite his costly postseason penalties.

The Buffalo Sabres talked to the New York Rangers regarding forward Jimmy Vesey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s interesting. The Sabres acquired Vesey’s rights from the Nashville Predators three years ago in hopes of re-signing him but he opted to join the Rangers instead. He has a year remaining on his contract worth $2.275 million and will become a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights. 

The Calgary Flames tested the trade market on James Neal. He believes they kicked around the notion of swapping Neal for Milan Lucic but decided against it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Neal trade speculation seems to have faded almost as quickly as it surfaced. There’s either not much of a market for his services or the Flames could be hoping for a bounce-back performance next season. 

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon acknowledged his club’s need to address their goals-against issue. A decision on goaltender Roberto Luongo is expected before the upcoming NHL Draft.

Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if the Minnesota Wild pursue New York Islanders winger Anders Lee or San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be more surprised if those two are available in the UFA market. If the Sharks re-sign Karlsson to a rumored eight-year, $88-million deal, that could make it difficult to re-sign Pavelski. 

Friedman predicted Dion Phaneuf and Andrew MacDonald would be bought out. Others to watch include Carolina’s Scott Darling, Anaheim’s Corey Perry, and Dallas’ Valeri Nichushkin.




NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2019

The Penguins trade Olli Maatta to the Blackhawks, and Dion Phaneuf and Andrew MacDonald are bought out. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Pittsburgh Penguins traded defenseman Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks for center Dominik Kuhan and a fifth-round pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. 

Pittsburgh Penguins trade defenseman Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While most of the focus in the Penguins trade-rumor mill was on Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin, Maatta was also considered a potential trade candidate. He’d fallen out of favor with head coach Mike Sullivan and the Penguins had to free up salary-cap space.

Maatta makes over $4 million annually through 2021-22 while Kahun earns $925K for 2019-20. The move shed over $3 million for the Penguins, giving them over $6 million in cap space for next season. The Penguins also get back a decent player in Kahun. The 23-year-old is a speedy, versatile forward who can play center or wing and tallied 37 points as a rookie this season, all but two of those at even strength.

For the first time in years, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has plenty of salary cap space to work with. Maatta brings what should be an invaluable injection of youth and puck-moving skill to their blueline. While he struggled this season, he helped the Penguins win two Stanley Cup championships. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him regain his confidence. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings have bought out the contract of veteran defenseman Dion Phaneuf. He was due to earn $5.25-million per season from the Kings through 2020-21. Cap Friendly has the buyout breakdown for the Kings and Phaneuf’s former club, the Ottawa Senators.

CSNPHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers yesterday placed defenseman Andrew MacDonald on unconditional waivers to buy out the final season of his contract. MacDonald, 32, had one year remaining on his five-year contract with an annual average value of $5 million. Cap Friendly has the details of the buyout. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These moves were unsurprising. Both blueliners are past their playing prime and carried too much salary. Still, I can see them signing affordable one- or two-year contracts with clubs seeking experienced depth and leadership on their bluelines.

There was speculation the Kings might also buy out center Jeff Carter. The Athletic’s Lisa Dillman reports Kings GM Rob Blake saying Phaneuf will be their only buyout this summer. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks raised concern over the NHL’s concussion protocol after Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk admitted he played through a concussion he suffered earlier in the postseason. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks isn’t the only person raising the alarm over the issue. Did DeBrusk hide his symptoms from team doctors? Was the coaching staff and management aware of his situation? If so, why did they allow him to continue playing? As my pal Scotty Wazz of The Face Off Hockey Show points out, this doesn’t reflect well on the league’s concussion program. 

STLTODAY.COM: Check out the photos of the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup victory parade.