Erik Karlsson could miss significant time, but expects to be playoff-ready

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The San Jose Sharks hope to win the Pacific Division, but it sounds like they’ll have to beat out the Calgary Flames for the division title without Erik Karlsson for much — if not all — of that run.

According to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, Karlsson provided an optimistic update about the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but a pessimistic one about the remainder of the regular season. Granted, both Karlsson and Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer hope that Karlsson can at least return for a few games before the postseason begins.

This update follows word from March 4 that the Sharks were being “extra cautious” with Karlsson’s lower-body/groin injury issues, which came after a Feb. 26 PHT post advised the Sharks do tread lightly.

Karlsson’s been struggling with this nagging issue for quite some time, so here’s hoping that he can heal up by early April. Resting up definitely makes the most sense here, but it doesn’t guarantee that Karlsson will truly be “100 percent” for when the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.

Losing Karlsson for a few weeks definitely stings, especially since the Sharks face a challenge in passing the Flames. If San Jose falls short, they’d have to deal with what could be a menacing first-round opponent in the Vegas Golden Knights.

A groin injury can be a hassle for just about any NHL player, yet it’s especially annoying for a player as mobile as Karlsson. Then again, Karlsson wasn’t exactly at full-strength during the Senators’ unlikely run within one goal of an appearance in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, either, and he was still an all-world presence for Ottawa.

That’s a comforting thought for the Sharks, but they’d obviously prefer that Karlsson be as close to his peak self during the postseason. Getting Karlsson’s best isn’t just key for the next playoff run, but also regarding his future as a pending unrestricted free agent.

And, no doubt, it would be a lot more fun for hockey fans, in general, to see this loaded Sharks team approach its ceiling with Karlsson in an ideal state. Here’s hoping it all works out that way, then.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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