Erik Karlsson wanted some time and space.
When the Sharks acquired the Norris Trophy-winning defenseman in a trade in September, he and his wife told the team they wouldn’t sign a long-term contract until they played a season to see if it was a fit. They gave general manager Doug Wilson their word they would make a decision in enough time let the Sharks plan their offseason.
Karlsson signed an extension with the Sharks two weeks before free agency opened.
“They were letting me play hockey and getting adjusted to everything, and that meant the world to me,” Karlsson said after signing for $92 million over eight years. “I’m very happy with how everything happened and that they didn’t force me into making a decision earlier than this.”
Karlsson is one of several players who might have landed richer contracts via free agency and opted instead to re-sign with their teams. For Karlsson, Philadelphia’s Kevin Hayes, Vancouver’s Alex Edler, Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, Washington’s Carl Hagelin and Tampa Bay’s Braydon Coburn, staying put won out over the risk of the open market.
“You never know what’s going to be out there if you go to free agency,” Edler said. “There’s a lot of factors coming up here in the next few years with the potential lockout (and) there’s an expansion draft” for Seattle.
Photo: Jeff Roberson / Associated Press 2018
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A lower-than-expected salary cap set at $81.5 million also means there will be less money available all around when free agency begins Monday.
Of course, it’s not like most of these deals were hometown discounts. Karlsson got the richest salary for a defenseman in NHL history, Hayes signed for $50 million and Skinner turned a career year into $72 million. No matter the cap, the possibility existed that free agent frenzy could land them bigger deals.
They just didn’t want to find out.
“Going to July 1 is nice, (but) it’s kind of nice to be able to get it over with and sign with a tremendous team,” Hayes said. “July 1 and unrestricted free agency is definitely an intriguing idea. But when I sat down with my agent and we kind of thought about what type of team I’d want to go and where I’d fit into the organization and the team, the Flyers were at the top of the list.”
Briefly: The Hurricanes have bought out the remainder of former Sharks captain Patrick Marleau’s contract less than a week after acquiring the three-time All-Star forward from the Maple Leafs. Toronto sent Marleau, 39, to Carolina on Saturday seeking salary-cap relief in a deal that included the Maple Leafs’ first-round draft pick going to the Hurricanes next year. That move saved Toronto $6.25 million in cap space. … The Hurricanes acquired forward Erik Haula from Las Vegas for center Nicolas Roy and a conditional fifth-round draft pick in 2020. Haula, 28, played 15 games last season before being lost to a knee injury. He had career highs with 29 goals, 26 assists, 55 points and 12 power-play goals in 2017-18 as the Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/For-some-in-NHL-free-agency-no-reason-to-move-on-14057453.php.