“We wouldn’t have done this deal if we weren’t very comfortable of that opportunity,” Wilson told The Mercury News, “and that’s why I was able to have discussions with their agents and with Erik.”
The Sharks have a track record of signing players acquired from elsewhere to long-term contracts, including defenseman Brent Burns, forward Joe Thornton and goalie Martin Jones. Forward Evander Kane, who was acquired in a trade last season, signed a seven-year contract to stay before he could have become a free agent.
“Look at the history. That’s all I can say,” Wilson said. “Jumbo (Thornton), Burns, Kane, Jonesy. When you have the type of team we have, the type of team and the type of players, [knowing] what players are looking for, I think we fill all those boxes.
“I’ve had conversations, in confidence with people, and came to the comfort zone of where we’re at today.”
The Sharks acquired Karlsson and forward prospect Francis Perron on Thursday from the Ottawa Senators for forward Chris Tierney, defenseman Dylan DeMelo, forward prospects Rudolfs Balcers and Joshua Norris, two draft picks, and two conditional draft picks.
Karlsson can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He did not sign an extension offer made this offseason by the Senators, one of the reasons they traded him to continue their publicly declared rebuilding effort.
The market for Karlsson is believed to have been set by the contract for Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who signed an eight-year, $88 million extension this offseason (average annual value of $11 million).
“Top players are going to get paid well, they are. And they deserve to get paid well,” Wilson said when asked about Doughty’s contract setting the bar. “It’s just the distribution of your [NHL salary] cap and when you’re trying to build a team trying to win a Stanley Cup, it’s a team-building concept. … My job and my owner’s job (Hasso Plattner) is to make this a place players want to play, and then once players get here, they’ll do whatever to take care of each other.”
Karlsson missed five games at the start of last season while recovering from foot surgery. He also missed most of the 2012-13 season after his Achilles tendon was cut.
Wilson was asked if there are reservations about offering the 28-year-old an eight-year contract, the maximum allowed.
“No, there wouldn’t be,” Wilson said. “We’ve done our research. Honestly, I really believe he’s just coming into his prime.”
The GM also did not seem worried that one puck would be unable to satisfy the Sharks’ offensive players, including high-scoring defensemen Karlsson and Burns. He compared it to their Bay Area neighbors from the NBA.
“The [Golden State] Warriors don’t seem to have a problem, and there’s only one ball,” Wilson said. “When you can put players that all love to play the game together, it’s amazing how they all have the common bond of trying to win.”