Sharks

Sharks re-sign forwards Karlsson, Donskoi

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Sharks re-sign forwards Karlsson, Donskoi

The Sharks re-signed forwards Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi, the team announced on Friday.

Karlsson's deal is for three years and Donskoi's contract is for two years.

"Melker plays an up-tempo, high-energy game and brings flexibility to our lineup wherever he plays," GM Doug Wilson said in a statement. "His tenacious style of play fits our team perfectly, and we feel confident using him in many different situations. He kills penalties, can play with high-end players and brings an honest effort night in and night out. We're excited he has made this commitment to the organization."

Karlsson, 26, recorded 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists), 73 shots on goal and set career highs in both plus/minus (+7) and penalty minutes (22) in a career-best 67 games played with the Sharks in 2016-17. He finished ranked T-5th on the team in goals, T-6th in plus/minus, T-1st in shorthanded goals (2) and 3rd amongst Sharks forwards in blocked shots (59). He skated the third-most shorthanded minutes per game amongst all Sharks forwards (1:34).

The forward has collected 65 points (34 goals, 31 assists) and a plus-9 rating in 185 career NHL games with San Jose. He was named the "Sharks Rookie of the Year" in 2014-15, after finishing ranked 7th amongst all NHL rookies in goals and T-15th in points. Karlsson tied a franchise-best goal scoring streak for rookies, tallying a goal in five consecutive contests. He has also added nine points (six goals, three assists) in 30 career NHL playoff games.

"Joonas plays a solid two-way game, combining his skill and creativity with an aggressive, hard-working effort in all three zones," Wilson said. "He plays the game the way we want to play as a team, and we feel he has only scratched the surface of his abilities. He battled through multiple injuries last season and we look forward to having him healthy at training camp this season."

Donskoi, 25, recorded 17 points (six goals, 11 assists), and 10 penalty minutes in 61 games with San Jose in 2016-17, his second season in the NHL. The forward ranked 4th on San Jose in power-play points (4) and his plus-83 shot attempt differential ranked 8th on the Sharks.

In 137 career NHL games, Donskoi has tallied 53 points (17 goals, 36 assists) and 202 shots on goal. He was named the "Sharks Rookie of the Year" in 2015-16, and posted 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 24 playoff games that season with San Jose. Donskoi became just the sixth rookie in NHL history to score an overtime, game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final when he scored in Game 3 vs. Pittsburgh. That goal also marked the first game-winning goal in Sharks franchise history in the Stanley Cup Final.

San Jose Sharks media services contributed to this story

 

While Erik Karlsson tries to fit in, Sharks just want him to be himself

While Erik Karlsson tries to fit in, Sharks just want him to be himself

SAN JOSE -- At his introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon, new Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson drew an interesting parallel when he was asked about trying to fit into a new team, after being the leading man for so long. 

The Swede mentioned playing for his national team at best-on-best tournaments; first at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, and then at the World Cup of Hockey two years later. 

“It was something that I always enjoyed,” Karlsson told reporters, “And I think that it challenged me to do things in a different way sometimes … I’m looking forward to that here as well.”

It’s not necessarily an outlandish comparison. The salary-capped Sharks aren’t as good as a Swedish national team that, if its latest World Cup iteration played in the NHL, would have been about $28 million over the current upper limit. But, Karlsson’s move from the 67-point Ottawa Senators to the 100-point Sharks in last week’s blockbuster trade represents a significant upgrade in the talent surrounding him.

The two-time Norris Trophy winner joins a defense corps featuring another Norris recipient (Brent Burns) and a shutdown defenseman with international pedigree of his own (Marc-Edouard Vlasic), on a team led by a Hart Trophy winner (Joe Thornton), the NHL’s sixth-leading scorer since 2013-14 (Joe Pavelski), and the fourth-best player by Corsica Hockey’s wins above replacement (WAR) model last season (Logan Couture). 

“We’re a good hockey team,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us. There’s a lot of good teams in the West, but I think [the Karlsson trade] puts us in position to have the ingredients to go compete with all the top teams.” 

Karlsson, then, just might be the active ingredient for a franchise still looking for its first Stanley Cup. He has two Norris Trophies to his name, four first-team All-Star appearances, and more points than any other defenseman since he entered the league. He led the Senators to within a double-overtime goal of the Stanley Cup Final just over a year ago, and scored more points than all but five defenders in a “down” year last season. 

If anything, Karlsson may have undersold his role on the Swedish national team when making the comparison. 

At the Sochi Olympics, Karlsson tied for the tournament lead with eight points, winning a silver medal. The Swedes weren’t as successful at the World Cup two years ago, but Karlsson still tied for the team lead in scoring. He also led his team in ice time in three out of four games, edging out the likes of Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman and Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson. 

The former ultimately won the Norris Trophy last season, while the latter will have the third-highest salary cap hit ($8.25 million) of any defenseman next season, when his eight-year contract extension kicks in.

In other words? “He’s one of the best players on the planet,” according to Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer, and not just because of his offensive ability. 

“We can use him in every situation,” DeBoer said Wednesday of his newest defenseman, adding that Karlsson was one of “very few players in the world that you could use in the last minute of games when you’re up to shut down the other team’s best players, or use to create offense when you’re behind.”

Karlsson sounded very aware of the situation he’s joining in San Jose. He knows he’s coming to a team that’s “been together for a long time that has good chemistry,” and he said it’s on him to find a way to fit in by doing whatever is asked of him. 

DeBoer indicated he will simply ask the four-time, first-team All-Star to be himself. 

“I don’t think there’s any adjustment,” DeBoer said. “We play up-tempo. We play aggressive. We play the way he plays.

“He’s gonna fit right in.”

The pre-trade meeting that made Erik Karlsson excited about Sharks

The pre-trade meeting that made Erik Karlsson excited about Sharks

SAN JOSE -- Sharks general manager Doug Wilson was in Ottawa last week to meet with defenseman Erik Karlsson before acquiring him in a blockbuster trade with the Senators. It turns out head coach Peter DeBoer met with Karlsson, too. 

DeBoer, alongside Wilson, met the two-time Norris Trophy winner and his wife, Melinda, in Toronto “maybe a day” before the trade was finalized, he told reporters Wednesday after the day’s first practice session of training camp. The purpose, DeBoer said, was to give Karlsson a a sense of what the Sharks had to offer. 

“It’s a huge investment for the organization,” DeBoer said Wednesday morning. “It’s a huge investment from him and his wife to commit to coming out here and playing here. It was a great information session, and I think we all walked out of there really impressed with the player and the person.”

It’s fair to say Karlsson came away impressed, too.

“I think from that day on, both of our views kind of matched up, and I was extremely excited about everything they had to say,” Karlsson told reporters at his introductory press conference Wednesday. “They were great people right from the start.”

“And they’re still great people,” he added with a laugh. 

After the meeting, the Sharks sealed the deal last Thursday. They acquired Karlsson in a deal that sent two roster players, two prospects, two draft picks, and two more conditional picks to the Senators. 

Before the deal was completed, the Senators gave the Sharks permission to meet with Karlsson, Wilson said Wednesday after the press conference. Karlsson and his wife also spoke with Sharks owner Hasso Plattner several times, Wilson first told reporters Saturday. 

Wilson credited Plattner with giving him and the front office the ability to take go after “difference-makers” like Karlsson, and Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares, whom the Sharks met with ahead of the start of free agency. 

Plattner was in the room when San Jose pitched Tavares at the CAA offices in July, and Wilson said previously that the owner keeps up-to-date with just about everything the team does, even down to the recent rookie tournament in Las Vegas. Karlsson said Wednesday that Plattner’s knowledge stood out. 

“Speaking with [Plattner] was very reassuring,” Karlsson said. “He knew what he was talking about, and he was a very well-spoken man. Hopefully, I get to meet him soon.”

Meeting the owner, head coach, and general manager ultimately made Karlsson comfortable with coming to San Jose, and vice versa. Although Wilson said he would not discuss contract negotiations, he reiterated Wednesday he felt “very comfortable” about locking up the 28-year-old to a long-term extension. 

Karlsson declined to discuss a possible extension as well, keeping the focus of his introductory press conference largely on the upcoming season. But, he said he was grateful that Plattner, Wilson, and DeBoer made the trade “as smooth as it possibly could’ve been.”

“[My wife and I] are extremely happy and excited to be finally here, soak it all in, and start our new adventure," Karlsson said.