Fantasy Impact: Per several sources, including TSN's Bob McKenzie, the San Jose Sharks have signed superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson to an eight-year contract extension worth something int he neighborhood of $92 million or $11.5 million AAV.
The Sharks get: Their man. Last season was an anomoly in that Karlsson's numbers were merely mortal (if 0.85 points-per-game for a defenseman can be considered mortal) and his elite-level game was restricted to a small window of mid-November through early January. In that span he played 25 games and picked up 34 points. So we know that the generational talent is still there at the age of now 29. The only drawback is of course his groin injury. He played through a lot of pain last season and the result was 11 points in the other 28 games. Though he did step it up in the playoffs, even with pain (maybe he got injections to help?), he tallied 16 points in 19 games.
Karlsson will be 37 at the end of this deal. As a generational player (and those who read me know I don't use that word often), he should be still a good player at that age. But…injuries. If this groin problem is chronic, the Sharks may only have half of Karlsson over the first three or four years of this deal, and maybe none of Karlsson by the end as he sits on LTIR (i.e. Robidas Island). Then again, that groin injury is the reason he's getting $11.5 instead of $13.5.
The Sharks power play hummed along at 23.65% last year (sixth in the NHL), which was up from 20.62% in 2017-18 (16th in the NHL). So Karlsson, who had 20 of his 45 points on the power play, clearly made a huge impact. He was paired up with Brent Burns 56% of his shifts with the man advantage, and at even strength his buddy was Brenden Dillon. For what it's worth, Burns' best offensive numbers came in the second and third quarters – i.e. the window in which Karlsson was really flying. As for Dillon, he set a career high in assists with 21 and Hits with 202. The latter is up due to increased ice time (17:45 per game, his highest with the Sharks) thanks to his Karlsson duties, and the former is up because you can't help but get 21 assists when Karlsson is on the ice with you. Dillon also had a career-best plus-19 rating, making him an attractive depth fantasy option for some of these peripheral categories.
This signing leaves the Sharks with $13 million in cap space. They still need to sign Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc, who should be able to eat that space up themselves. But the team also wants to keep Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton who are UFAs. And that's letting Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Donskoi go. And that's still with two more forward spots to fill with salary-minimum players. So another big repercussion of this deal is that San Jose will be active on the trade market. As with 20 other teams, they will need to dump salary towards the other 10. Yes, about 10 NHL GMs are rubbing their hands with glee as San Jose now joins Toronto, Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Edmonton, and many others looking to dump some big contracts.
One of the three big names (the others are Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky) is off the board…before we get to even use the board. July 1st is slowly slipping in terms of interest level. With teams tight against the cap, you may see more NHL GMs drive a hard bargain. While this won't effect the superstars, you may find that some of the remaining stars and average players have their salaries pushed downward, along with a general delay in getting a contract signed. You may see more contracts getting signed later in July or even August. On the flip side, you should see more trades as contracts get dumped, with those players handcuffed to appealing prospects in an effort to convince another team to take it. Whatever happens, DobberHockey will be here to try to help make some sense of it.
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