This morning, the San Jose Sharks announced that impending UFA Erik Karlsson had agreed to an eight-year, $92 million dollar contract. The deal comes with a full no-trade clause and its $11.5 million AAV makes Karlsson the highest-paid defenseman in the game, surpassing Drew Doughty’s $11 million AAV.
Karlsson and Doug Wilson took questions about the extension after the announcement. Before we get to some of the choice quotes, here are some key takeaways from their conference calls:
- Karlsson stressed multiple times how important it was that he never felt pressured, in season, to make a decision about his free agency. Concurrently, Wilson revealed that Karlsson and his wife Melinda had pledged to let San Jose know their intentions before July 1.
- Karlsson shot down rumors that he and his wife were eyeing a move to Montreal or Ottawa: “I don’t think that news had any credibility.”
- Both Wilson and Karlsson believe that Karlsson’s groin surgery won’t be an issue when training camp rolls around.
- Wilson indicated that Joe Thornton hasn’t informed the organization about his plans for next year yet. Wilson also added that Karlsson’s signing does not preclude Joe Pavelski’s return. Wilson noted that he’s talking to all of San Jose’s UFAs and RFAs.
Without further ado, here are quotes from this morning’s pressers. This is not the full transcript, just select quotes from Karlsson and Wilson.
Karlsson, on why he chose to forgo free agency and re-sign for eight years with San Jose:
Spending the full season there and getting a look on how everything works from the organization. The entire Bay Area was key to everything.
Everybody has shown it’s a quality place to play ... especially my teammates, getting to know them over the course of the full year. Seeing how dedicated they are to winning the Cup and wanting to be better at all times.
Doug Wilson and Hasso Plattner never pushed me to make a decision throughout the year. They were letting me play hockey, get adjusted to everything. That meant the world to me.
Both sides made sure this was going to be the best fit possible. That’s what I feel. This is a place where I want to be, that I’ve enjoyed, that I could see myself reaching the potential that I have.
I’m very happy with how everything happened, and again, that they didn’t force me to make me a decision earlier than this.
Karlsson, on how team’s run to Conference Final affected his decision:
San Jose has been a good team for 20 years or so now, that shows a lot. I knew that before I came there. They’ve always been a good team.
When you get to the playoffs, and you go through as much adversity as we did this year, you can really tell a lot about a group and about an organization.
Karlsson, on what sets San Jose apart from other organizations:
San Jose is a great community, a great place. Everybody loves living there. They made us feel as welcome as you possibly can. Ever since we set foot there, we’ve enjoyed our time there.
Karlsson, on rumors that he and his wife were looking elsewhere, especially Montreal and Ottawa:
My focus ever since I got traded to San Jose, was on San Jose.
It is a family decision. San Jose is a place where we’re going to be extremely happy in.
Yes, it’s far from Ottawa. So I don’t think that news had any credibility.
She’s extremely happy. She’s extremely on board with everything. She’s been extremely supportive of me.
We feel this was the best decision we could’ve made. One thing she told me too was this is a hockey decision. This is what I do. This is my livelihood. This is something I’ve been doing since I was a kid.
She gave me that opportunity to choose. I made this decision on a hockey base.
We’re proud to be Sharks long-term.
Karlsson, on his recovery process after groin surgery:
I’m in the process right now. It’s going to be all summer long. I’m going to do everything that I can to be as good as I possibly can for when the season starts.
So far, no problem. I don’t expect this to be an issue starting next year.
I’m going to have a great summer ahead of me, and I’ll be back in San Jose in no time.
Wilson, on the process with Karlsson:
What I truly respect, can’t say enough about Erik and Melinda. They shared with us up front how the process was going to be, how they wanted it to go. We agreed with that. They needed time to get to know us, we wanted to get to know them.
But the fact that they always shared with me that they would make this decision way ahead of July 1st means the world to us for so many things.
The one thing right from Day One, Erik and Melinda gave me their word that they would make their decision [before July 1st].
It also tells you Erik is a team-first guy.
This is a place where we want players to want to play and stay. The more they get to know about us, the better. We trusted in that process.
Wilson, on any concern about Karlsson’s injury history:
That’s the beauty of why it was so important to have the player here. We got to know him, historically, the medical side of it.
We’re extremely comfortable.
He had something he tried to play through, it’s fixed. It’s going to be 100 percent come September; he’s putting in the work for that.
Wilson, on if Thornton will return:
Whatever time he needs to take to make his decision will be Joe Thornton’s.
When he decides, he’ll call and let me know. There will always be a place for Joe Thornton in this organization, on or off the ice.
Wilson, on if the door is still open for Pavelski to return:
I don’t talk about contract negotiations. But I don’t think anybody should rush to conclusions about anything. There’s many ways to accomplish different things.
All discussions are ongoing with all our UFAs and RFAs at this point and will continue.