Rumour Report: Erik Karlsson frontrunners surface

With free agency on the horizon, contenders for Erik Karlsson have begun to emerge.

Although the Sharks continue to hold out hope that Erik Karlsson will re-sign with San Jose, it's starting to look like the dynamic defensemen will be heading to market.

Speculation has suggested for a while that Karlsson's preference is to return to the Eastern conference and be closer to his home in Ottawa. Where specifically is open to speculation.

The Capitals and Penguins have shown varying levels of interest in Karlsson and could circle back.

The Rangers appear to be among the most interested, and could be one of the few teams willing to back up the money truck for the injury-plagued puck mover.

Out West, the Golden Knights are likely to take another run at signing Karlsson. But after trying and failing on several occasions to luke Karlsson last summer, the Knights pivoted to forwards Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny and eventually Mark Stone. Time will tell if newly appointed GM Kelly McCrimmon continues to pursue Karlsson.

Although they'd have to do a fair bit of salary cap manoeuvring, the team that appears to be highest on Karlsson's list is the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts narrowly missed out on Karlsson last summer and are likely to circle back. Close friend Victor Hedman is likely to be central to Tampa's pitch. Tampa appear to be the odds-on favourite, although there is plenty of track left to be run.

The bidding war is just getting started. Stay tuned.

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