The Sharks acquired Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators on Thursday with the intention of ultimately re-signing him, but the defenseman stayed mum on the possibility of extending his contract beyond this season.
"As of right now, that's a private discussion, and that's [not] something I'm going to elaborate on," Karlsson said in a conference call with reporters Thursday when asked about his eagerness to sign an extension in San Jose.
The 28-year-old defenseman is entering the final year of a seven-year, $45.5 million contract that he signed with Ottawa in 2012, and he's eligible to hit unrestricted free agency next summer. Karlsson said his focus lies on this season, as it did this morning when he said he woke up assuming he'd be a Senator. He fought back tears in his exit press conference in Ottawa. He told reporters there he "never wanted to leave" the Senators.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Thursday that he envisions Karlsson as a fixture on San Jose's blueline for years to come.
"When you get a highly competitive guy like this that comes available ... you step up." Wilson told reporters, speaking after Karlsson. "Yes, it's a long-term approach and we think Erik fits for us for now, and for a long time."
Wilson has reason to believe he can get a deal done. Evander Kane, who faced a similar future when the Sharks acquired him at the trade deadline in February, skipped free agency entirely and signed a seven-year, $49-million contract extension in May. Kane told NBC Sports California in an interview earlier this week that he always envisioned hitting the market, but his time in San Jose made his decision to re-sign rather straightforward.
"It was a lot easier to make the decision not to test free agency than I thought it would ever be," Kane said.
It appears the Sharks made a strong impression on Karlsson, who said he was "extremely appreciative" the team gave up a package featuring two roster players, two prospects, a 2020 first-round pick, a second-round pick and conditional picks. Karlsson hasn't spent much time in the Bay Area, beyond a trip to San Francisco and Napa earlier this summer with his wife, Melinda, but he likes what he's seen of the team from afar.
"They've been a good team for a number of years now," Karlsson said. "They were really good last year. I obviously know most of their players from playing against them and watching them on [television]. It's a real good team that I'm going to be joining, so I'm obviously excited about that and looking forward for the the challenge that we have ahead of us, and again, I'm going to do everything I can to be as good and ready as possible for when I do arrive."
The Swede isn't sure when that will be, as he still has to work through visa issues after being traded across the continent. When he does, the Sharks will hope to win him over.