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Karlsson off the NHL market

The Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks took a risk when they traded for elite defenseman Erik Karlsson knowing he had only one year left on his contract. They sat patiently as he learned about the organization and area during an injury-plagued season and were rewarded when Karlsson decided not to hit the open market.

The Sharks then pounced and signed Karlsson to a $92 million, eight-year deal on Monday, turning a one-year rental into a long-term commitment to one of the league’s most dynamic defensemen.

“This was a big decision for me,” Karlsson said. “Ultimately at the end of the day, I know it’s the right one for me, my family and this organization as well. I’m very happy with how everything happened and that they didn’t force me into making a decision earlier than this.”

A person with knowledge of the deal said it carries an annual cap hit of $11.5 million and includes a full no-movement clause. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms of the contract.

The Sharks acquired the two-time Norris Trophy winner just before the start of last season from Ottawa. Karlsson was hampered by groin injuries for much of his first season in San Jose but also showed flashes as he helped the Sharks reach the Western Conference final for the fifth time in the past 15 seasons, where they lost to eventual champion St. Louis in six games.

Karlsson wore down at the end of the series against the Blues. He missed most of the second half of the third period in a Game 4 loss to St. Louis, missed the entire third period when the Sharks lost the following game and then didn’t travel for the Game 6 loss that ended San Jose’s season. The 29-year-old Karlsson had surgery on the groin on May 31 and is expected to recover fully before the start of next season.

The Sharks were confident enough in his health to give him the richest contract of any defenseman, topping the $88 million, eight-year extension Drew Doughty signed in Los Angeles last summer. The only current deals worth more annually are Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million cap hit on an eight-year deal in Edmonton and Auston Matthews’ $11.6 million cap hit on a five-year contract in Toronto.

“We’re extremely comfortable,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “It’s fixed. It will be 100% come September and he’s putting in the work for that. That’s one of the great advantages to having the knowledge you go through the process to make this decision. It would have been more difficult for us if we were on the outside and never knew the player and you have the unknown factors in this.”

Rangers, Jets do deal

The New York Rangers have acquired defenseman Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick in the draft.

The teams announced the trade Monday. Trouba is a restricted free agent who needs a new contract.

Trouba, 25, gives the rebuilding Rangers a legitimate top-pairing defenseman to speed their move toward being playoff contenders again. The right-handed-shooting blue liner had eight goals and 42 assists for 50 points last season.

Winnipeg is facing a salary-cap crunch and would have had trouble fitting in Trouba. Pionk, 23, is also a restricted free agent but will cost less than the more-established Trouba.

Pionk had six goals and 20 assists last season with New York in his second NHL season.

Ducks make it official

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Dallas Eakins is the Anaheim Ducks’ new coach.

The Ducks announced the move Monday, filling the NHL’s last head coaching vacancy with the veteran coach of their AHL affiliate in San Diego.

Eakins spent the past four seasons with the Gulls, leading them to the AHL’s conference finals this season. He has worked extensively with the homegrown talent that currently fills much of the Ducks’ roster.

Eakins coached the Edmonton Oilers from the start of the 2013-14 season until December 2014, going 36-63-14.

Eakins replaces Ducks general manager Bob Murray, who stepped behind the bench for the final 26 games of last season after firing Randy Carlyle. Anaheim went 14-11-1 under Murray but missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

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