NHL Rumors: Erik Karlsson Sharks Contract Doesn't Rule Out Joe Pavelski Return

The Sharks entered this offseason with plenty of questions to be answered. Perhaps the biggest one was answered Monday. 

Star defenseman Erik Karlsson signed an eight-year deal with the Sharks to stay in San Jose.

While Karlsson was the biggest name that could hit the open market, the Sharks have another star that could leave San Jose. How does the Karlsson deal affect Joe Pavelski? The Athletic's Craig Custance reports the team can actually still keep both players. 

Pavelski, who turns 35 in July, is set to be a free agent. The Sharks' captain played in 75 regular-season games and scored 64 points -- 38 goals and 26 assists. For the first time in his career, the center ended the season with a negative number in the plus-minus stat, with a negative-4. 

With the Sharks committing $11.5 million annually to Karlsson for eight season, The Athletic's Kevin Kurz notes the team is now on the books for $67.645 million to just 15 players. The NHL's salary cap is expected to be $83 million this year. 

So, where does that leave Pavelski? Evolving Hockey projects Pavelski to sign a three-year deal worth slightly over $7.5 million annually. That would put that Sharks at a little over $75 million on their salary cap. 

The Sharks certainly will have to clear cap space one way or another to keep Karlsson and Pavelski together. They made a clear sign their eyes are on the Stanley Cup by re-signing Karlsson, though, and one has to think they'll try to keep their captain at The Tank.

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