What, Doug Wilson worry?
If Wilson is at all concerned with Erik Karlsson’s less-than-outstanding 2019-20, in the first season of the superstar defenseman’s eight-year, $92 million dollar contract, the San Jose Sharks general manager wasn’t showing it this morning.
This year, by the way, is the first time since 2010-11 — that’s nearly a decade — that Karlsson didn’t receive a single Norris Trophy vote. Yes, even in 2012-13, when Karlsson played just 17 games in an injury-shortened season, he received a third-place vote.
So what reasons did Wilson offer to give San Jose Sharks fans hope that Karlsson can bounce back despite a recent rash of injuries and advancing age?
“It might be the first time he’s been 100 percent healthy since he’s been with us,” Wilson offered.
In September 2018, when the San Jose Sharks acquired Karlsson, there were still concerns about the two-time Norris winner’s full recovery from his September 2017 ankle surgery.
Last May, Karlsson underwent groin surgery after battling constant lower-body injuries during the last half of the 2018-19 season.
“Erik has great pride. Last year, he had a disjointed start with the beginning of the season. He had a lot going on in his life. New-born baby right before the Vegas [season-opener],” Wilson added. “He had an off-season where he had surgery and was able to rehab it to a certain point. Whether or not he had enough time to rehab it and build up the strength and conditioning that he needed?”
Wilson got an update from Karlsson, who’s holed up in his adopted hometown of Ottawa, yesterday: “Erik has been able to put a lot of work in.
“Now, he’s been able to put all that behind him. He says he feels fantastic.”
30 Is the New 20
Wilson also isn’t fazed by the fact that Karlsson just turned 30: “You take a look, a lot of the top defensemen [are] in that age group, whether it be Roman Josi or Drew Doughty.”
Like Karlsson, 2020 Norris winner Roman Josi just turned 30. Doughty is also 30. Of course, San Jose Sharks teammate Brent Burns won the 2017 Norris at 32.
“He still played some pretty good hockey for us [this year]. But I think his best hockey is now and going forward,” Wilson asserted. “I think you’re about to see Erik Karlsson be one of the dominant players in the game again.”
Everything Is Awesome
Wilson also shared glowing updates about other banged-up San Jose Sharks stars.
If the 2020-21 season had started as scheduled, there was some question as to whether or not Tomas Hertl would’ve been ready.
Hertl required season-ending surgery after suffering ACL and MCL tears in his left knee in January.
“Tomas has trained extremely hard, no limitations at all,” Wilson offered, “he’s ready to go.”
Wilson re-asserted that Logan Couture is 100 percent healthy after concussion and ankle issues this year.
He also added of Burns, who played through nagging injuries this season: “Burnzie is skating 2-3 times a week. He’s going out doing hikes. He’s got a gym there [in Texas].”
For a top-heavy San Jose Sharks squad, this is all good news.
“Our best players have to be our best players,” Wilson emphasized. “Getting them back rested and our top of their game is the most important thing for us.”
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