The San Jose Sharks are focused on a potential Stanley Cup appearance this season, but in a few weeks will have some hard decisions to make about their roster. One of those is whether they can retain pending unrestricted free agent Erik Karlsson, something that Chris Johnston of Sportsnet does not believe will be easy. Johnston was on radio today and gave his thoughts on the star defenseman’s situation:
I still think Erik Karlsson is going to be this year’s John Tavares. I think he’s setting up camp—in his case his agents are based outside of Toronto at Newport Sports—and taking a few suitors, getting wooed and seeing what’s out there. I think that he’s going to leverage the market and really make a life decision for himself. I’d be surprised if he’s back in San Jose, though the caveat I think I mentioned the other night was that I don’t know if this Cup [run] has somehow changed his mind and he’s fallen in love with the place. I think it’s been tough on his family, being there with his wife being from Ottawa and some of the things that have gone on with them.
Johnston goes on to suggest that the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning will both be contenders for Karlsson’s services, though it would obviously need plenty of work on the latter’s behalf to fit him into their cap situation. Karlsson was expected to get a Drew Doughty-like contract previously, but his injury history may now affect to what lengths teams are willing to go. The 28-year old has 15 points in 17 games these playoffs while averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time a night for the Sharks.
- Another star player who could be potentially on the move this summer is Phil Kessel, who debuts at the very top of Frank Seravalli’s summer Trade Bait board for TSN. Kessel was still extremely productive this season with 82 points in 82 games and led the league with ten game-winning goals, but would seem to be the first one out the door if Penguins GM Jim Rutherford really wants to shake things up this offseason. The 32-year old has three years remaining on his contract but carries just a $6.8MM cap hit thanks to the salary the Toronto Maple Leafs are still retaining.
- Another blow was struck to the NWHL today, as Emily Kaplan of ESPN reports the New Jersey Devils are dissolving their partnership with the Metropolitan Riveters. Kaplan notes that the Riveters will remain a team for now, but will have to find a new place to play. This is just the latest in what has been a disastrous few weeks for the NWHL, starting with more than 200 of the top players in the world announcing a boycott of women’s hockey. Kim and Terry Pegula, owners of the Buffalo Sabres, also recently turned control of the Buffalo Beauts over to the league, ending their run as the only privately owned and operated team in the league.