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Karlsson inks eight-year deal to stay with NHL Sharks

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San José (United States) (AFP)

Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson signed an eight-year National Hockey League contract on Monday to remain with the San Jose Sharks.

The 29-year-old defenseman, who underwent surgery three weeks ago to repair a groin injury, could have been an free agent in July. His deal is reportedly worth more than $11 million per season.

"I'm super excited to continue my journey with the Sharks," Karlsson said. "Since my first day here, I have only good things to say about the people, organization and the fans. The entire Bay Area has been extremely welcoming to me and my family. I appreciate that and we can't wait to spend the next eight years in San Jose."

Karlsson had three goals and 42 assists in 53 games in his first season with the Sharks and added two goals with 14 assists in the playoffs, in which the Sharks were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference final.

"I'm excited to continue the chase for the ultimate prize: the Stanley Cup," Karlsson said. "Last year was an unbelievable run but we didn't achieve what we set out to do.

"But the dedication I witnessed from my teammates, coaches, staff and organization showed me that we all have a great future ahead of us and that we are capable of fighting for that championship year in and year out."

Karlsson, who is expected to be healthy for the October start of next season, was obtained by San Jose last September in a trade with Ottawa. He has 129 goals and 434 assists in 680 NHL games and has twice won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman, in 2012 and 2015.

"Players with Erik's elite level of talent are rare and when they become available, it's important to be aggressive in pursuing them," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "He's a difference maker who consistently makes the players around him better."

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