Could Nikolai Knyzhov be back by late January or February?
That’s the target date right now, subject to change, a source tells San Jose Hockey Now.
That would be an impressive comeback for the star-crossed Knyzhov, who last played 18 months ago, at the end of his rookie 2020-21 campaign. He was voted by the media as the San Jose Sharks’ Rookie of the Year after that turn.
Since then, the 24-year-old defensive defenseman missed the entire 2021-22 season because of a setback from off-season hernia surgery which caused an infection. He also had a groin injury which required surgery.
Knyzhov was on the comeback trail this past summer, setting his sights for the beginning of the 2022-23 season, before he tore his Achilles in August.
Last month, Knyzhov hit the ice for the first time since that setback.
He’s since graduated from skating in his warm-ups to hockey drills in full gear, though he’s yet to participate fully in a San Jose Sharks practice.
But that doesn’t seem as far-flung a hope as it once seemed.
“I think there’s certainly quiet optimism in our organization that we’re gonna see him sooner than we had anticipated,” San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn said about two weeks ago.
The original timeline for Knyzhov in August was approximately six months, for what it’s worth, but thinking about the young blueliner’s recent injury history, even meeting the timeline would be a huge win.
There’s no word whether or not Knyzhov would start his comeback in the AHL or NHL, though considering how much time that he’s missed, a conditioning stint with the San Jose Barracuda would seem likely.
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