NHL Rumor Mill – March 4, 2019
Has Erik Karlsson earned a major new contract with the Sharks? How much will it cost the Sabres to re-sign Jeff Skinner? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LONG-TERM INVESTMENT IN KARLSSON COULD BE RISKY FOR SHARKS
SAN FRANCISO CHRONICLE: Ross McKeon believes defenseman Erik Karlsson has yet to earn a possible maximum-extension contract with the San Jose Sharks. He points out the 28-year-old blueliner has only given the Sharks 29 good games. That’s likely the most they’re going to get from him leading up to the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs with Karlsson currently sidelined by a nagging groin injury. Unless Karlsson can deliver a Stanley Cup, McKeon feels it would be “a foolish business” to pony up between $88 million to $100 million on a long-term deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t argue with McKeon’s take. Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, is one of the NHL’s elite defensemen…when he’s healthy. However, another early playoff exit by the Sharks or an injury-hampered postseason performance by Karlsson could make general manager Doug Wilson think twice about an expensive long-term investment in the All-Star blueliner. His long-term future in San Jose will be an interesting sub-plot as the Sharks enter the 2019 playoffs.
STONE’S NEW CONTRACT COULD AFFECT SKINNER’S CONTRACT TALKS
WGR 550: Howard Simon believes right wing Mark Stone’s new contract with the Vegas Golden Knights will have an effect upon the Buffalo Sabres efforts to re-sign pending free-agent left wing Jeff Skinner. Stone recently signed an eight-year deal with the Golden Knights worth an annual average value of $9.5 million, which Simon considers the official market price for comparable players like Skinner. There’s talk the Sabres didn’t want to go above $9 million per season but Stone’s new contract could force them beyond that.
Simon feels it’ll be worth it. He points out only Rasmus Dahlin and Sam Reinhart will be in line for big raises down the road, plus Jason Pominville ($5.6 million) and Matt Moulson ($3.9 million) come off the Sabres’ books after this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Sabres won’t pony up $9.5 million annually for Skinner, somebody else certainly will. The Sabres have over $54.5 million invested in 16 players next season, giving them plenty of room for Skinner if ownership is willing to spend close to the cap. If he’s willing to stay in Buffalo, the Sabres should pay the man. He’s got terrific chemistry with first-line center Jack Eichel and they’ll need that offense going forward as they build toward playoff contention.
UPDATE ON BOBROVSKY AND THE BLUE JACKETS
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien reports things haven’t gone well for the Columbus Blue Jackets since the trade deadline, dropping three of their last four games. He singles out the lousy performance of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed four goals in each of his last two games and 15 in his last four contests. O’Brien suggests they should think long and hard about relying on Bobrovsky down the stretch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade or free-agent rumor but Bobrovsky’s lousy play of late leads me to wonder how much of an effect this could have upon his value in this summer’s free-agent market. Yes, he’s a two-time Vezina Trophy winner but he’s got a lousy playoff record, he’s acted petulantly throughout this season and looks nothing like a Vezina candidate. That screams, “buyer beware!” to me.