The Sharks have games against the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs this week, but many people are already looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup with Ottawa Senators.
Which of course means Erik Karlsson is already being peppered with questions about his first return to Canadian Tire Centre as a member of Team Teal.
Karlsson spoke to a small group of reporters after Monday’s practice in Buffalo about returning to face the team he was part of for nine seasons.
“Going back to Ottawa will be special," the 28-year-old defenseman said, according to CBC. "It's going to be different and weird.”
Karlsson, who was selected 15th overall by the Senators in the 2008 NHL Draft, registered 518 points (126 goals, 392 assists) in 627 regular-season games for Ottawa. Although he’d played for the Sens his entire career, rumors swirled last season that he may pack his bags and go to another team. Add to it the stress of a trying year, and it was anyone’s guess if Karlsson wanted to stay in Ottawa.
Nevertheless, the two-time Norris Trophy winner was preparing to join the team at the start of training camp this September when he became the central piece of a massive eight-player deal between Ottawa and San Jose.
“It’s been a big adjustment,” Karlsson told reporters about the move to California. “It’s still taking some time, but I've been enjoying my time. I've been getting as much help as I possibly can.”
Karlsson has registered two goals and 13 assists in 24 games for San Jose. While he may have been off to a slow start, No. 65 is clearly on an upward trend since finding the back of the net for the first time this season on November 17.
In the Sharks 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on November 23, he registered a goal and two assists. Through the whole process, Karlsson has insisted on focusing on the collective team game and not dwelling too much on his individual performance.
“The game is starting to take form,” he told the media in Buffalo. “I haven't really worried too much about the individual parts. We're trying to build something here for the remainder of the season. I'm excited about that part."