Erik Karlsson mum on signing contract extension after trade to Sharks

Erik Karlsson mum on signing contract extension after trade to Sharks

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. 

Sharks recall rookie center Rourke Chartier after extended AHL stint


Sharks recall rookie center Rourke Chartier after extended AHL stint

SAN JOSE – There was more shuffling between the Sharks and their AHL affiliate on Wednesday, as the big club recalled rookie center Rourke Chartier from the Barracuda.

The 22-year-old center played 13 games for the Sharks, scoring one goal through that span before being reassigned to the Barracuda on Nov. 17. At the time, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said the reassignment was to help build up Chartier’s confidence – especially because the fourth line, where he’d been playing, was struggling mightily at the time.

“When you’re a young guy and you’re in that situation,” DeBoer said after practice that day, “sometimes it’s better to get into an environment where, instead of it snowballing on you, you can nip it in the bud and get back to playing some big minutes and get your confidence back.”

Clearly, the move paid off. Chartier has since registered eight points (two goals, six assists) in eight AHL games.

How the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native will fill into the lineup still remains to be seen. San Jose continues its search for the perfect combination on its fourth line, where Chartier played center at the start of the season. That position has recently been occupied by Lukas Radil, who tallied a goal and an assist in his last two NHL games while playing with Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson.

Chartier’s playing role could also be dependent on Joe Thornton’s health. The 39-year-old center took a maintenance day on Wednesday, making it twice this week he’s been absent from morning skate. Should the future Hall-of-Famer have to miss Thursday night’s game against the Stars, the Sharks’ forward lines may get rearranged as they look to close out their season series against Dallas with a win.

What rookie Antti Suomela's AHL stint means for Sharks' forwards


What rookie Antti Suomela's AHL stint means for Sharks' forwards

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks didn’t hold a practice Tuesday. But there still was news out of the South Bay, as Finnish rookie center Antti Suomela was reassigned to the AHL Barracuda for the first time this season.

The 24-year-old tallied eight points (three goals, five assists) in 27 NHL games since making the Sharks' roster out of training camp. It's unclear as of right now how much time Suomela -- who spent time centering the third and fourth lines -- will spend in the AHL. But the reassignment will, no doubt, give the Finn an opportunity to log game time.

Sharks fans likely noticed the absence of that No. 40 sweater recently, since Suomela was scratched two games in a row after Czech winger Lukas Radil was recalled from the AHL club.

Radil, who brings three years of KHL experience to his NHL campaign, scored his first NHL goal Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes. He also set up defenseman Radim Simek’s first NHL goal Monday against the New Jersey Devils.

Given Radil’s current success playing with Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson on the Sharks' fourth line, it wouldn’t make sense to take the line apart. So, instead of having Suomela practice with the Sharks and then having him post up in the press box on game night, it makes more sense for him to get some games in with the Barracuda. That way, he can stay fresh and get a bit of a boost from playing with the AHL club.

Suomela impressed in his first couple of NHL games as the third-line center, finding success with Evander Kane and fellow countryman Joonas Donskoi on his wings. He scored his last goal on Nov. 13 against the Nashville Predators -- one day after being a healthy scratch, no less -- and tallied his last assist four days later against the St. Louis Blues. He had not scored a point in his last seven games prior to his reassignment.

As with the length of Suomela’s reassignment, it’s also not entirely known how the Sharks’ fourth line will shake out. While Radil has found success through a couple of games playing with Goodrow and Karlsson, it’s also possible San Jose could recall another one of its rookie centers to play on that line. Forward Francis Perron, whom San Jose acquired in the Erik Karlsson trade, currently leads the Barracuda with 22 points, and he hasn't seen any NHL time yet.

There also has been speculation the Sharks could be in search of a fourth-liner ahead of the NHL trade deadline. While Joe Thornton’s move to third-line pivot has helped spread San Jose’s depth throughout the lineup, having another weapon in the bottom six would behoove the Sharks if they want to make a deep playoff run. If that’s the case, we likely won’t see members of this season’s rookie contingent recalled unless there’s an injury to one of the Sharks’ staple forwards.

In the meantime, Suomela will join the Barracuda as they travel to Southern California this upcoming weekend for games against the San Diego Gulls and the Ontario Reign. The Cuda currently leads the Pacific Division of the American Hockey League with 33 points, and a 15-3-1-2 record so far on their 2018-19 campaign.