Erik Karlsson Sees Move to Sharks as ‘extremely Motivating Challenge'

SAN JOSE -- While the Sharks and their fans waited on pins and needles over the last six days for Erik Karlsson to report to training camp, the defenseman had to tie up some loose ends. There were people to see, luggage to pack, paperwork to fill out, and even a little golf to play.

By the time Karlsson flew to San Jose and landed late Tuesday night, he said he was more than ready. 

"By the time everything got sorted, it felt like it was time to leave and I was extremely excited to finally get here," Karlsson said Wednesday afternoon in his introductory press conference at the downtown Hilton. 

Last Thursday's blockbuster trade marked the end of Karlsson's nine-season stint with the Ottawa Senators, the only team he's ever played for. In nearly a decade in the Canadian capital, Karlsson grew into one of the game's best defenseman, winning two Norris Trophies and becoming a perennial All-Star. 

Karlsson was emotional addressing the Ottawa media in the trade's immediate aftermath, but he officially turned the page on his career Wednesday. The 28-year-old practiced with the Sharks for the first time in the morning, and put on a teal, No. 65 jersey in front of the cameras later that afternoon. 

He told reporters that afternoon that he was looking forward to the opportunity to start fresh.

"I see this as an extremely motivating challenge to grow as a player and as a person," Karlsson said. "I think, from everything so far, I'm going to have a great opportunity to do that here."

Karlsson skated alongside defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic in most drills Wednesday morning. He even played with fellow Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns -- and captain Joe Pavelski -- during an extended three-on-three scrimmage at the end of practice, and joked that the experience was "not too shabby."

[RELATED: Key stats explain Karlsson's dominance]

The Swede, who is entering the final season of a six-year deal and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, demurred again when asked about the possibility of signing a long-term contract extension to stay in San Jose. He told reporters that he's not yet looking beyond the upcoming season. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson would not comment on Karlsson extension talks, either.

That shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise. Karlsson just moved to a new team, in a new city, and in a different conference, to boot. He seemed almost relieved to be done with the move, and to be able to play once again.

"That's the big thing that's resonated with me," Wilson said. "He's not worried about anything else. He just wants to get in and be a good teammate, and get going." 

The Sharks will play their second preseason game Thursday, but it's unlikely Karlsson will suit up. That'll be just his second day with the team, and the coaching staff wants to use that game to evaluate some of the young players still in camp.

San Jose won't need to rush to integrate a player of Karlsson's caliber, and he didn't seem to mind the pace Wednesday. 

"They gave me the space that I needed, and at the same time, they gave me the comfort of letting me know that they were here if I needed anything," Karlsson said. 

"I think it was a perfect first day, and I'm excited to get up tomorrow and go back to the rink."

Copyright CSNBY - CSN BAY
Contact Us