Report: Travis Zajac warned Erik Karlsson not to return

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Many believed that Erik Karlsson wouldn’t be back until the 2013-14 season after suffering his Achilles injury, so plenty of people are surprised that he’s set to return to action against the Washington Capitals tonight. At least one player with a similar issue in his history doesn’t think it’s a great idea.

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac struggled to return from surgery related to his own ailment last season, and while his issue was a rupture instead of a clean cut, he’s speaking from experience. The Ottawa Citizen’s James Gordon passes along word from Team 1200 that Zajac advised Karlsson not to play on Thursday:

As yesterday’s post points out, the 22-year-old defenseman looks primed to come back from the injury in 71 days, which is almost three weeks earlier than a previous best-case scenario.

Karlsson’s a young star who’s in the first season of a seven-year, $45.5 million contract, so it’s clear that the stakes are high here. (It’s hard to shake the parallels to other athletes like Robert Griffin III if you’re the worrying type.)

Of course, the upside is alluring, too: the Senators get the defending Norris Trophy candidate back in time to shake off some rust before the playoffs.

It should be an interesting gamble to watch.