Sharks

NHL rumors: Erik Karlsson, Sharks working toward contract extension

NHL rumors: Erik Karlsson, Sharks working toward contract extension

The Stanley Cup has been lifted, and the NHL's offseason officially is underway for all 31 teams. Before free agency begins, though, the Sharks reportedly are looking to make a splash by re-signing defenseman Erik Karlsson.

The team and the two-time Norris Trophy winner still are discussing a contract extension, a league source told The Athletic's Kevin Kurz on Thursday.

Kurz wrote that the Sharks "are prepared to offer" Karlsson an eight-year extension in the range of Drew Doughty's $88 million deal with the Los Angeles Kings. With an $11 million salary-cap hit, Doughty currently is the NHL's highest-paid defenseman.

Kurz reported that Karlsson and Sharks general manager Doug Wilson met for dinner Wednesday night in Santa Clara. A Facebook user in a Sharks fan group posted a picture with Karlsson and Wilson from the restaurant, and it later surfaced on the Sharks' fan-run subreddit.

Image courtesy: Reddit (R/SanJoseSharks)

The Sharks first acquired Karlsson, the Senators' longtime captain, in a blockbuster trade that sent four players and up to two draft picks to Ottawa on the eve of training camp. Karlsson played 53 games in his first season in San Jose, missing two because of a December suspension and 27 from January onward because of two separate groin injuries. Despite all that missed time, he scored 45 points (three goals, 42 assists) and posted a 59.22 percent 5-on-5 corsi-for percentage -- the best puck-possession mark among defenseman who played at least 750 minutes this season.

Karlsson clearly was hobbled during the Stanley Cup playoffs, but he tied for second on San Jose with 16 postseason points (two goals, 14 assists). He didn't play in the Sharks' season-ending loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference final to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues after aggravating his groin in Game 4 and playing just 10:32 in Game 5.

The Sharks announced last week that Karlsson underwent successful groin surgery, and the defenseman was seen on crutches while attending Game 3 of the NBA Finals that same day. 

The 28-year-old defenseman has not played in 82 games in any of the last three regular seasons, and he also underwent surgery on his left foot after the 2017 postseason. That said, he still would be the best defenseman to hit unrestricted free agency if he and the Sharks cannot reach an agreement. Karlsson can interview with other teams beginning on June 23, but San Jose is the only one that can offer him an eight-year extension.

The latest Karlsson can sign such a deal is 11:59 p.m. ET on June 30, and he only would be able to sign a seven-year deal with a team -- including the Sharks -- beginning at noon ET the next day.

[RELATED: Inconsistent Sharks defense faces uncertain future]

The Sharks currently have just over $58 million in salary commitments for next season, giving them right around $25 million in cap space based on the cap's projected rise to $83 million for 2019-20. Karlsson is one of seven players who can become an unrestricted free agent, in a group that also includes wingers Joonas Donskoi, Gustav Nyquist and Joe Pavelski, as well as veteran center Joe Thornton.

Young wingers Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier likely are in line for raises as restricted free agents, giving Wilson plenty to think about as the offseason rolls along.

Watch Sharks' Evander Kane score first-period hat trick, make history

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USATSI

Watch Sharks' Evander Kane score first-period hat trick, make history

Evander Kane's second career hat trick was a first for the Sharks. 

The San Jose winger scored three goals in the first period Wednesday against the Carolina Hurricanes at SAP Center, becoming the first player in franchise history to score a hat trick in the opening 20 minutes. 

Kane opened the scoring 8:36 into the night, gathering a loose puck in the slot and firing a shot past Hurricanes goaltender -- and former Shark -- James Reimer.

The Hurricanes tied the game just over two minutes later, but Kane gave the Sharks the lead once more with a power-play goal. Kane scored his second shortly after Reimer robbed him with a glove save that the winger contended crossed the goal line. 

It didn't end up mattering, as Kane capitalized on another loose puck in the slot for his second goal with 2:41 remaining in the first period. 

Kane scored his third fewer than two-and-a-half minutes after his second. With the Sharks on the power play once more, a wide-open Kane redirected Brent Burns' point shot past Reimer to double San Jose's lead. 

[RELATED: Sharks' Labanc keeping focus on future after team's turnaround]

Kane's three first-period goals were the most the Sharks have scored in a single period all season. The 3-1 advantage they took into the first intermission was just the second lead the Sharks have had after the first 20 minutes all season. 

The Sharks probably won't have to wait as long for their next first-period lead as they did for their first first-period hat trick. 

Sharks face 'big test' vs. Hurricanes as they seek third straight win

Sharks face 'big test' vs. Hurricanes as they seek third straight win

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks appear to be bouncing back from a dismal start to their season with two wins in a row. But they face new challenges as they continue their homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"It's a big test for us," head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters during Wednesday's morning skate. "You just look at the analytics. Number one in the league in creating scoring chances off of the rush, in the top two or three of creating offense. They're scoring in bunches. (There are) a lot of different things there you're going to have to deal with -- maybe the best defense corps in the league one through six, and they're getting great goaltending. That's why their record is what it is."

Of course, San Jose is looking to jump on the Canes early, especially since the Sharks are hosting and playing on the tail-end of a back-to-back. They beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 in LA on Tuesday night. But when a team is as good as Carolina is, there's a little more to it.

"We just can't beat ourselves," DeBoer said. "We know what they do well. It's exactly like when we play playoff hockey against an opponent. You've got to take away what they do well or not feed what they do well. And at the same time, try to establish our own game. That's something I've talked about since day one."

Multiple Sharks contributed to the team's 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday. Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Kevin Labanc all found the back of the net while Martin Jones stopped 29 of 30 shots that came his way and the penalty kill went a perfect four-for-four. But DeBoer knows his team's overall game still has another level it needs to find.

"We won the last game and I thought we were better defensively," he said. "But we only generated 20 shots, We've got to find a way to start getting a four-line identity where we're harder to play against and spend more time in the other team's end."

[RELATED: Kevin Labanc focused on future during turnaround]

The Hurricanes visit SAP Center with a 6-1-0 overall record on the season and are undefeated through three road contests.

San Jose went 1-0-1 against Carolina last season, tallying their solo win at home 5-1. The Sharks are 20-17-0-3 all-time through 40 games against the Hurricanes.