The first season of Erik Karlsson in San Jose was mixed. The d-man superstar scored 0.85 points per game, but was injured all year round and found himself in the training at the end of the season, including in the playoffs. If the Sharks did not get the best display of what their team looks like, they've seen enough:
The biggest free agent is off the market, with an extension that seems to match that of Kings, Drew Doughty, last summer. It's a lot of years and a lot of money for a guy whose best and healthiest seasons may already be behind him – and Karlsson will be 37 years old at the end of this deal – but that's what was going to be needed to sign it, and a team with Erik Karlsson is definitely better than the one without.
But (man, there's a lot to be done for an agreement that locks one of the league's best defenders for the rest of his career), there's also an opportunity cost to take into account. $ 11 million for Karlsson, this is $ 11 million less to spread over the rest of the list, which includes free agents Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist, as well as Germany's Timo Meier and Kevin Lebanc, both probably online for raises.
The Sharks expect the cap to be raised sharply when the new CBA collective agreement and US television enter the next few years – or perhaps another round of amnesty buybacks – but some significant changes are definitely coming to San Jose. In one way or another, the decision to commit to Karlsson will be decisive.