Erik Karlsson’s first (and potentially only) season as a member of the San Jose Sharks was bittersweet.
It was a success in that he gave the Sharks the league’s most potent one-two punch on the blue line alongside Brent Burns and he helped the team come within two wins of reaching the Stanley Cup Final. However, it was also disappointing since Karlsson’s season was marred with lingering groin issues that ultimately caused him to miss the team’s final game of the season.
Karlsson was acquired from the Ottawa Senators in a September trade after an unceremonious split from the team that drafted him back in 2008.
On Friday, the pending unrestricted free agent posted a message on Twitter thanking the Sharks organization for how he was received and treated.
Karlsson finished 2018-19 with three goals and 42 assists in 53 regular-season games, missing a huge chunk of the season due to the aforementioned groin issue, before adding an impressive 16 points in 19 playoff outings.
The soon-to-be 29-year-old is coming off a seven-year, $45.5-million contract and is expected to get a significant raise on the $6.5-million salary cap hit he has had since 2012.
At one point it was believed Karlsson would sign a similar deal to the one Drew Doughty inked with the Los Angeles Kings that pays him an average of $11 million per season.
It’s unclear how much Karlsson’s injuries – in addition to his groin, he also underwent a significant ankle procedure in 2017 – might impact his next cap hit.
In addition to Karlsson, the Sharks have a handful of notable pending UFAs including forwards Joe Thornton, captain Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyqiust and Joonas Donskoi. Also, pending restricted free agents Timo Meier and Kevin Lebanc need new contracts.
If Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, hits the open market he’d easily be the most coveted defenceman available ahead of Tyler Myers, Jake Gardiner, Alex Edler and others.
Free agency officially begins July 1 at 12 p.m. ET.