NHL free agency: Will Erik Karlsson's health affect Sharks signing him?

NHL free agency: Will Erik Karlsson's health affect Sharks signing him?

SAN JOSE – Ever since arriving in San Jose last September, Erik Karlsson’s tenure as a Shark has been riddled with questions.

Questions as to when he would get on the scoreboard when he started off the season pointless. Questions as to why he was participating in the NHL All-Star Game when he was too hurt to pencil into his team’s roster on a nightly basis. Questions as to whether the Sharks would sign him to a deal that would keep him in teal past the 2019 season – which became even more of a mystery when he tweeted out a message to Sharks fans, thanking them for the season.

The latter question will be answered in good time with San Jose’s postseason run over and free agency on the horizon. Now, come the questions as to how much Karlsson’s injuries from this past season play into what happens to him next.

“I’m still in the process of figuring all that out so I can’t really give you a straight answer,” Karlsson said during exit interviews when asked about his overall health. “It’s nothing major. It’s just going to take some time and figure everything out. It should be something that’s easy to deal with. That’s as much as I know.”

Karlsson missed 29 games over the regular season with a suspected groin injury, which first took him out of the Sharks’ lineup just before the All-Star break. Following his return in the final game of the regular season, the conversation continued into the playoffs regarding how healthy he really was.

While Karlsson appeared more and more healthy as the Sharks advanced through two rounds of the playoffs, he began to show signs he was ailing during the Western Conference final, and eventually missed Game 6.
The defenseman didn’t expand on the extent to which he was injured, only saying he was one of many Sharks’ skater who wasn’t playing at 100-percent.

“Everybody is dealing with something,” Karlsson insisted. “You have to play through things.” 

Karlsson also didn’t give any indication as to what kind of rehab process he will have to go through over the offseason, although he insisted his health wouldn't get in his way.

“All I know is it’s not going to be anything that will be a problem moving forward,” he said. “I’m going to be able to have a normal summer with training and everything and getting ready. That’s great.”

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told the press he didn’t know yet if any injured players on the team would need surgery in the offseason, including Karlsson. When asked if Karlsson’s health played a factor in whether the team tried to sign him to a long-term deal, Wilson didn’t lean one way or the other.

“I’m still in the reflection mode of this year, just starting to meet with players, meet with coaches,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of guys who have contracts up, and out of respect to them, we don’t discuss that.”

[RELATED: Sharks emerge from playoff run with lengthy injury list]

Karlsson does appear interested, however, in testing out the market.

“I’ve worked hard for 10 years in this league to be in the position that I’m in. I’ve earned that,” he said of being an unrestricted free agent. “I’ll do everything I can to make the best decision for myself and for the team that is going to want me.”

How much his health plays into that decision, still remains to be seen. 

Coronavirus: Fourth NHL player tests positive, Sharks connected to all

Coronavirus: Fourth NHL player tests positive, Sharks connected to all

There have now been four NHL players that have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), and all four cases have a connection to the Sharks.

The Colorado Avalanche announced Saturday that a second member of their team has tested positive for the coronavirus.

"The Colorado Avalanche were advised late last night that a second player has tested positive for COVID-19," the team said in a statement. "The player is in self-isolation. All other Avalanche players, staff and others who might have had close contact with the player have been informed and remain isolated as per prior League direction and are monitoring their health and will be in touch with Club medical staff as necessary."

Saturday's announcement comes two days after the first Avalanche player tested positive, though the unnamed player was said to have since recovered. The two Colorado players to test positive for the coronavirus doubled the NHL's previous total after the Ottawa Senators announced last week that two of their players also had tested positive, the first known instances in the league.

San Jose played its final game before the season was paused on the road, but had a six-game homestand immediately prior to it. The Sharks' final two opponents on that homestand? The Senators on March 7 and the Avalanche on March 8.

On March 21, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson announced that none of their players had shown any symptoms of the coronavirus, and none had been tested as a result. However, the franchise did announce on March 12 that a part-time employee at SAP Center had tested positive, having last worked a game at the arena on March 3.

[RELATED: Couture buys Peloton to stay in shape during virus stoppage]

The NHL season was indefinitely paused on March 12. On Wednesday, the league announced that the 2020 NHL Draft, along with the scouting combine and Bridgestone NHL Awards have also been postponed, with new dates yet to be finalized.

Sharks' Logan Couture buys Peloton to stay in shape during coronavirus halt

Sharks' Logan Couture buys Peloton to stay in shape during coronavirus halt

The first rule of quarantine is simple. If you want to exercise and can't leave your house, buy a Peloton.

With the NBA, NHL and MLB all paused or delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Bay Area's best have been finding ways to keep busy.

For Sharks captain Logan Couture, that hasn't amounted to a lot of physical activity during the shelter-in-place order.

During an NHL Zoom conference call with Marc-Andre Fleury, Anze Kopitar and Ryan Getzlaf, the Sharks forward said he and his girlfriend are hunkered down in the South Bay and have been reading and binge-watching shows. But he's working to change that, so he ordered a Peloton exercise bike which is slated to arrive Saturday.

“Ordered it 10 days ago and it’s supposed to arrive Saturday," Couture said. “I’m looking forward to that.”

Couture missed the last game the Sharks played due to a concussion from taking a puck to the jaw, but he says he's feeling better now.

He hopes the Peloton can help get his fitness back to where he would like it to be.

“I haven’t been able to do much in terms of exercise," Couture said. “I’ve tried to stay home as much as possible — working on body-weight stuff — I’m not in the best shape.”

[RELATED: Couture picks Thornton as teammate he'd least want to quarantine with]

Hopefully, the Peloton arrived on time.