After positing a cryptic thank you tweet once the San Jose Sharks were eliminated from playoff contention, it seems all the more likely that Erik Karlsson will be dawning a new sweater next season. The million dollar question now is what sweater will he be wearing?
Karlsson is a top defender in and around the National Hockey League, but there have been rumours floating around about teams being reluctant to sign him long-term. Throughout the regular season and more noticeably, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was quite clear that the Swedish defensemen that we were seeing was not the true Erik Karlsson. Karlsson, 28, has had some injury troubles over the year which have seen him sidelined plenty this season, missing a chunk of regular season play as well.
Karlsson was not playing like his usual self people know him to be. His defensive game was just not there while he looked timid and slow at times. His reaction time was just not itself, but by no means was Karlsson bad on the contrary despite it.
He had a great season and a great playoff from an offensive point of view. He played the role of playmaker and was great at it. Throughout the regular season, he recorded 45 points in just 53 games while 42 of those points were registered as assists to his statistic resume. Throughout the entire season, he only had 3 goals on 169 shots which means he only shot 1.8%.
The playoffs were no different for the Sharks new leader under Peter DeBoer. Karlsson became known as one of the Sharks best playmakers throughout the playoffs. At times, it seemed like he needed to shoot more as he rarely shot which again was not very Karlsson like.
It is understandable why teams may be reluctant to bring aboard Karlsson. He is an expensive player and would likely ask for a long-term contract with any teems that’s interested. Signing a player of Karlsson’s caliber would be a dream come true for any NHL team. The problem is, is it worth it?
As mentioned above, Karlsson truly was not himself this season. Regardless of the fact that the offence from Karlsson was there as opposed to his defence, he did play to the same standard that the world has come to know of him. Signing Karlsson would not only take up a significant amount of cap that many teams would have to sacrifice for, but it would require a lot of confidence, something many teams would first have to establish.
Teams want to make sure that Karlsson will recover from his injuries that plagued him this past season before making the commitment in which Karlsson could make anywhere from $9-$11M, an undoubtedly hefty sum of money. A deal to bring him aboard would likely be seven years as well so you obviously want to make sure the player that you are spending such a large amount on is healthy. The narrative now is that many teams do not fully believe that Karlsson is healthy and will go back to his old self.
There will undoubtedly be interest in Karlsson come free agency if he does indeed reach free agency and there will be teams that are willing to take the risk on Karlsson, but if they do, they should make sure that he is healthy and have strong enough indication that he can return to old dominant self that he once was with the Ottawa Senators.