The San Jose Sharks locked up elite defenseman Erik Karlsson to an eight-year $92 million deal with an AAV of $11.5 million. At 13.8% of the assumed $83 million cap, this new deal is comparable to the one Drew Doughty signed with Los Angeles.Info via CapFriendly
Karlsson has undoubtedly earned this payday. The two-time Norris Trophy winner is the best offensive defenseman in the league and has been riding an amazing .88 point per game pace over the last three seasons. Holding down top pair minutes, generating over 250 shots a season with ease and blocking his fair share of shots, Karlsson is a multi-dimensional player. Thanks to Evolving Wild, here is a small glance at last year for Karlsson: Looking at these tables, we can see that offensive production when he is on the ice is phenomenal. His individual power play goals are the only negative here, mainly because as the power play quarterback, he is setting up other players. His power play assist numbers are fantastic, 18 of his 45 points last year were from power play assists. His statistics back up the contract. His in-game performance backs up the contract. Even though he deserved the deal he got, I’m not a fan of it from the San Jose Sharks point of view.
Injuries are a concern
The issue I have with this contract is the inclusion of a full NMC that is set to expire when Karlsson turns 37 years old. Normally I’m okay with deals like this, despite knowing that the last two years could be awful. I get that you pay to get the first four or five years at the player’s peak. Unfortunately, Karlsson has had some major injuries — a cleanly torn Achilles in 2013, an offseason ankle injury resulting in the partial surgical removal of his ankle bone in 2017 and a current nagging groin injury that was finally surgically repaired this past May. He’s known for his above-average speed and skating abilities for a defenseman. These attributes will certainly be impacted by his injuries, and will also decline rapidly with advancing age. Before anyone accuses me of ageism, hockey causes significant and repeated wear and tear on an otherwise healthy body, and these compounding injuries could realistically bring his career to an early end. Now, I love Erik Karlsson. He is one of my favorite players to watch, and I’d love to see him play out this contract in dominating fashion. But, I have my reservations.
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