Melker Karlsson will not be returning to the NHL for the 2020-21 season. As reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston today, the forward has signed with a team in the SHL, Sweden’s highest professional league.
Karlsson has spent his entire NHL career with the Sharks, playing 396 games with the Sharks over six seasons, scoring 60 goals and 112 points in that time. This past season, he scored six goals and 12 points in 61 games.
Considering that Karlsson still wasn’t re-signed by the Sharks at this point, we could assume that he wouldn’t be returning to San Jose. That said, it is somewhat surprising that he didn't sign with any NHL team.
I had said before that it was probably in San Jose’s best interest to let Karlsson leave in free agency, rather than bringing him back for another year. Karlsson is already 30 years old and his stats have been declining for a few seasons now. He was on pace for just eight goals and 16 points per 82 games in the 2019-20 season and wasn’t really playing up to his $2 million AAV. Even if he was to take a pay cut, which likely would’ve been necessary for the Sharks to consider extending him, there’s no sense in bringing him back as his play seemingly continues to slip.
Rather than re-signing Karlsson, it made more sense for the Sharks to either go after a veteran with a higher ceiling or use the space in the lineup to continue integrating younger players. Especially considering how many other decent forwards are still unsigned at this point, it just wouldn’t make sense to save space in the lineup or on the payroll for Karlsson.
While he has been a member of the team for many years now and in a way, it’s tough to see veterans leave the team, it was a necessary move for the Sharks part ways with Karlsson.
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Do you wish the Sharks had re-signed Melker Karlsson?