5/23/19 | 2:23PM: On the 31 Thoughts Podcast from 5/23, Elliotte Friedman said, “I’ve heard mixed things about the Rangers, at times I’ve heard yes and at times I’ve heard no. It’s his call, he is a UFA and gets to make the choice. I just really believe that if it’s up to him he will try to find a way to play in Tampa.” (Sportsnet)
Karlsson said on Thursday that he likes the San Jose area and Sharks organization but “hasn’t really thought” about what is next. (Kevin Kurz)
5/20/19 | In an interview in Sweden, Henrik Lundqvist noted that there have been rumors about Erik Karlsson, “and other players,” potentially coming to the Rangers this offseason and seaid “we’ll see what happens.” (Expressen)
He said that a player like Karlsson would mean a “great deal” to any team and added that this is an “important” summer for the Rangers with their cap space and desire to get better. (Expressen)
On Calgary radio last Thursday, Chris Johnston of Sportsnet said the following about Karlsson:
“I think Erik Karlsson is going to be this years John Tavares. I think he will be setting up camp, his agents are based outside of Toronto at Newport Sports and taking a few suitors and getting wooed and seeing what is out there. I think he is going to leverage the market and really make a life decision for himself. I’d be surprised if he is back in San Jose, and I think it’s been tough on his family being there and I just think he will take this moment in time as a rather large name still in the prime of his career, yes with some injury questions but when you look at someone who has won a couple of Norris Trophies and should have some good years left, I would think that he will go through a wooing process. I know that back when the All-Star game was in San Jose that he had dinner with Henrik Lundqvist and Lundqvist was low-key selling him on a marriage to the Rangers. I think Erik is really going to look around and test the market and it will be a surprise to me if he signs an extension before June 23rd when he is officially able to start talking to other teams.”
The host then mentioned the Rangers as possibly being the leader for Karlsson and Johnston replied, “they would be a favorite along with Tampa. Tampa would require some pretty serious surgery to the roster but there has been a long song and dance between the Lightning and Karlsson and he and Victor Hedman are very close and that is an organization that I would see being very bold. The Rangers are probably the most likely destination since they have money to spend and they are at a point where they have a ton of draft picks piling up and the time is probably right for them to scale up and I could see a fit there for him but don’t overlook the Lightning if they make moves to clear cap space.”
Karlsson is ranked 2nd in Craig Custance’s list of the Top 20 Free Agents this summer and writes that Karlsson likes it in San Jose and that while there have been contracts talks there hasn’t been anything “too specific.” (The Athletic)
Adam Rotter: The Rangers are going to be linked to Erik Karlsson in every discussion until Karlsson signs somewhere. He’s good friends with Henrik Lundqvist, they need to upgrade on defense and, especially with their cap space, the Rangers are going to be linked to pretty much everyone. I’m sure the Rangers are interested in Karlsson the way they would be interested in any and every player of that caliber. Karlsson is an elite defenseman that would give them their best player back there, especially offensively, since Brian Leetch. But the Rangers thought that would be the case with Dan Boyle and that didn’t work and Kevin Shattenkirk has not met expectations halfway through his contract. Injuries are the biggest red flag with Karlsson and it’s hard to see the Rangers, with their desire to be flexible and all the young players they have, giving him his best offer. I don’t think it can be ruled out though and if Karlsson wants to be a Ranger it’s likely they do what they can to make it work.
Making it work though is more than just getting Karlsson signed an a number that works for both sides. If the Rangers add Karlsson they need to make other moves on defense which would likely include Kevin Shattenkirk being moved in some way and probably Brendan Smith as well. I think Marc Staal is safe but to add Karlsson the Rangers need to free up spots on defense and still leave some open for young players. There is an expectation that Tampa will go after him, and possibly use JT Miller, and others, as part of a package to clear cap space and that Detroit could make a big play as well.