One day after All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson was a late scratch against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Sharks placed another important blueliner on injured reserve.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic headed to IR, and the Sharks recalled defenseman Jacob Middleton to take his place on the active roster. Vlasic practiced with the team Friday, but now will not play in San Jose's final two games before the All-Star break.
Middleton's presence indicates Karlsson might not be good to go, either. The Sharks have carried eight defenseman on their roster all season, and Middleton's recall gives San Jose two healthy defenseman who can take Karlsson's place in the lineup. Joakim Ryan did so in Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Karlsson's undisclosed injury also might place his status for Saturday's NHL All-Star Game in San Jose in doubt, assuming he does not play Monday against the Florida Panthers and/or Tuesday against the Washington Capitals. He did not play in the final six-and-a-half minutes of the Sharks' win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last Tuesday, and reportedly was limping after their loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.
Vlasic has not played since Jan. 2, when he left in the final 10 minutes of the Sharks' 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche. San Jose coach Peter DeBoer told reporters Friday that Vlasic was getting closer to a return, but the team did not want to risk further injury.
“We’re not going to put him out there and get him reinjured,” DeBoer said at the time. “Especially with the 10-day break on the horizon. But if he can help us and get in there, then he will.”
Middleton made his NHL debut on Jan. 5 against the Lightning. He had just 5:02 of ice time in that game, and played three games with the AHL San Jose Barracuda after the Sharks activated defenseman Justin Braun from IR.