Erik Karlsson: ‘No timetable’ on contract talks with Sharks

Will the Sharks find a way to get the deal done? Will he follow the Drew Doughty 8-year blueprint? The Erik Karlsson contract debate rages on between HC at Noon’s Brian Burke and John Shannon.

Over the weekend, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported that contract talks between the San Jose Sharks and their newest star defenceman, Erik Karlsson, had begun.

Karlsson addressed the topic during an all-star media availability Thursday night in San Jose, saying “the time is nigh.”

“It’s coming up. We all know it. There’s no way around it,” Karlsson told reporters (quotes via NHL.com). “You guys are going to talk about it. I’m going to think about it. That’s just the way it is.”

Shortly after Karlsson was dealt to the California club in September without word of a contract extension, the two sides made it pretty clear that they would take their time and allow all parties to get comfortable before talking numbers and making a long-term commitment.

“We have no timetable on anything,” Karlsson said Thursday. “Whatever goes on is going to be handled privately.”

He also told reporters that Sharks GM Doug Wilson “has been great” with him and his wife, Melinda, and spoke highly of the GM’s patient approach in helping San Jose’s new residents ease into their new surroundings — a huge adjustment considering Karlsson had played his entire career in Ottawa up until that point and Melinda is from the Ottawa area. Both still have strong ties to the city, including charitable initiatives.

“He’s been very respectful. I appreciate that a lot, both me and my wife do,” Karlsson said of Wilson. “When the time comes for a decision to be made, whenever that is, I think they’ve done everything they possibly can to give us the most information we need to make the right decision.

“We came in here with an open mind, and I think we’re going to do everything we can to make the best possible decision for everyone, and especially ourselves with the information that we have at the time. They provided more than enough.”

It took a little time for the 28-year-old to look comfortable on the ice, resulting in uncharacteristically low numbers on the two-time Norris Trophy winner’s stat sheet. He said Thursday he “wasn’t concerned” about it, and clearly the Sharks didn’t need to be, either. Something has clearly clicked with Karlsson — he now has three goals and 40 assists through 47 games this season, and even enjoyed an incredible 14-game point streak (25 points, 24 of which were assists) that took him into the new year.

“They’ve done a fantastic job in letting me have that freedom,” Karlsson said. “They’ve been very respectful of that, but at the same time, the time is coming up here now and things are starting to wind down. It’s something that we’re going to have to think about, but yeah, we do have a lot more information now than we did before, and we like it. Once that time comes, we’re going to sit down and try to figure that out. I’m sure we’ll do it in the best possible way. So far, the Sharks organization has done everything more than good.”

If the two sides want to lock into an eight-year pact, they’ll have to wait until after the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 25. Karlsson can also choose to test the open market, as he’s due to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

“I think that both me and my wife liked it here instantly,” he said. “It took us a little while to get settled in and getting new routines. … But again, I think the people around here — the organization and my teammates and everybody — did a great job in helping us settle in as quickly and as comfortably as possible and giving us all the room that we needed to grow individually to establish ourselves. I think we’re past that threshold now where we wake up every day and kind of know what to do.”

Karlsson hasn’t played since Jan. 16, sitting out the Sharks’ final three games before the all-star break with what the team called a lower-body injury, but said he will play in Saturday’s showcase as one of three Sharks players selected (captain Joe Pavelski and fellow defenceman Brent Burns are the others).

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