All throughout All-Star weekend, Elias Pettersson and Erik Karlsson seemed to be together whenever a camera was nearby, sparking many fans to speculate if Karlsson may be headed back over the border in a Vancouver Canucks’ jersey come free agency time.
With the Canucks set to play the San Jose Sharks tonight, and Karlsson set to be a pending unrestricted free agent at season’s end, I began to wonder how likely it is that we see the two-time Norris Trophy in a Vancouver uniform come October.
Before you call me crazy, really try to imagine it. Karlsson is a top-tier right-handed defenceman, something the Canucks definitely lack. He’s Swedish, served as a captain, and carried Ottawa to being a win away from a Stanley Cup Final berth just two seasons ago. Quite the resume to say the very least. He knows what it takes to win, and is certainly someone I’d like to see mentoring the next wave of young Canucks blueliners.
It goes without question that Karlsson will command a hefty annual salary when he hits the open market at season’s end. Reports have Karlsson seeking an eight-year deal, anywhere from eight to eleven million dollars per season — similar to the contract the Los Angeles Kings gave Drew Doughty. Whether Karlsson receives this type of money or not will simply be up to the GM that signs him.
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It is no secret that the Canucks cannot go into next season looking to compete for the playoffs with the same defense core as this season. Things need to change on the back end, and the addition of Quinn Hughes will certainly help the cause — but nonetheless, some changes certainly need to be made on the Canucks blueline.
Vancouver should have a good amount of cap space come July 1st. As per CapFriendly, the Canucks’ projected cap space at season’s end will be around 10 million, meaning they may just be able to sign the Swedish defenceman to the lucrative contract he’s reportedly looking for.
That being said, the Canucks will also have to re-sign restricted free agents Brock Boeser and Ben Hutton and appear to have the intention of bringing pending UFA Alex Edler back. Depending on how the rest of the season goes, Boeser could command anywhere from $6-8 million per season, meaning the Canucks would have to be cautious about running into future cap space troubles.
And those are just the players who need to be signed this season. Depending on how the loaded prospect pool of the Canucks pans out in the next three to four years, the team could run into some trouble trying to resign all of them and pay Karlsson.
We all know Pettersson has sped up the rebuild, but in my opinion, the rebuild is not over. There is still work to be done before the team is ready to be a cup contender. Signing Karlsson, however, would speed up the rebuild even more than it already has been by the emergence of Pettersson.
With all this, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported that the Sharks and Karlsson’s camp began talks of a contract extension shortly before the All-Star break commenced. It has also been widely reported that Karlsson is beginning to enjoy his new life in San Jose, and that he and wife Melinda are adjusting quickly from life in Ottawa. This means it’s entirely possible that Karlsson chooses not to test free agency on July 1st, and simply remain a San Jose Shark for the foreseeable future.
But if Karlsson does decide to hit the open market and explore his options, the Canucks should certainly check in with him to see what his interest level is in coming to Vancouver — and what kind of money he is looking for. Besides, it looks like Pettersson has already begun the recruitment process — just see for yourself.
Okay, that was a joke, but it is not that crazy to think that Pettersson will potentially try to persuade Karlsson into coming back north of the border come free agency time. A playoff berth for the Canucks this season would certainly help Pettersson and general manager Jim Benning’s sales pitch. If Karlsson signed in Vancouver, it would make the blueline much more solid and secure for years to come.
What do you think Canucks fans? Should the Canucks pursue Karlsson in free agency? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments section below!