Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of training camp.
Name/Position: Melker Karlsson, LW
2015-16 cap hit/contract: $1.65 million, signed through 2016-17
2014-15 year in review: There weren’t too many bright spots for the Sharks last season, but Melker Karlsson was one of them. A relative unknown in training camp, the free agent forward was eventually recalled from AHL Worcester in early December and never returned. In 53 games, Karlsson posted 13 goals and 11 assists and was named as the team’s Rookie of the Year.
The highlight for Karlsson came when he posted a five-game goal-scoring streak from Jan. 3 – 10, tying a rookie franchise record. He did, however, dry up late in the year with just two goals in the last 16 games.
The Sharks rewarded the restricted free agent with a two-year, $3.3 contract extension on June 27 that was fair for both sides.
2015-16 outlook: Karlsson found a home on the left of Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, spending nearly 60 percent of his ice time on the top line. Whether he stays there at the start of camp is yet to be determined, but Karlsson is one guy that coach Peter DeBoer will likely try in a few different places.
Karlsson is the kind of guy that can move up and down the lineup, and considering that DeBoer would like to play a more skilled fourth line this season, perhaps putting him with Ben Smith would make sense. The 25-year-old Swede, who was memorably dubbed a “puck hunter” by former coach Todd McLellan, strikes me as the kind of guy who could be an effective fourth liner. He skates in straight lines, he isn’t afraid to get his nose over the puck in difficult areas of the ice, and could be one of those energy guys that can contribute even if he’s not scoring every night.
Karlsson seems like a coachable player that doesn’t care where he is in the lineup, and will do whatever is asked of him. He’s a good guy to have around.