Melker Karlsson, Center
Melker Karlsson has been a consistent part of the San Jose Sharks bottom-six forward group since he stepped foot into the NHL six seasons ago in 2014-15. However, the soon-to-be 30-year-old just had the worst season of his career.
In 61 games this season, the “Melkman” only mustered up 12 points (six goals, six assists). That’s a career-worst for points and goals. Like the rest of the Sharks, Karlsson’s defense struggled this season as well, being a career-worst -7.
Karlsson is listed as a center but he’s never taken too many faceoffs in his career. This season was the first season since his rookie year that he took over 30 faceoffs. However, he struggled at the dot, only winning 45.2 percent of his faceoffs.
Karlsson’s possession metrics have never been good either. His career CF% is just 49.7, 2.4 lower than the team when he’s off the ice, and his career FF% 50.3, 2.2 lower than the team when he’s off the ice.
There hasn’t been a season for Melker where his CF% hasn’t been worse than 1.0 under and FF% hasn’t been worse than 0.5 under the team since his rookie season where he was actually above the Shark’s CF% and FF%.
This shows although the Sharks didn’t control play very often this season, with Karlsson on the ice, they controlled play even less.
With Karlsson turning 30 and the fact that he struggles to control play, I think the Sharks would be better off with letting him walk and replacing him with one of the young and/or cheaper options within their organization.
Although his cap hit was just $2 million this season and he probably won’t get more than that in free agency, I don’t see the value in keeping and playing Karlsson over a younger player during a time of rebuild.
That additional cap space can go towards signing a legitimate back up/platoon goalie for Martin Jones and/or signing a better center or winger.