Devastating news for Nikolai Knyzhov.
The San Jose Sharks announced today that Knyzhov recently tore his right Achilles tendon while off-ice training.
He had successful surgery on Aug. 10 and will be out approximately six months.
What a stomach-turning way to start the day for Sharks fans: Knyzhov, 24, has already missed all of last season because of groin injuries and a post-surgery infection. And the popular defenseman is going to keep on sitting out, until about Valentine’s Day.
Knyzhov was named the San Jose Sharks’ Rookie of the Year in 2020-21, when the free agent signing out of the KHL came out of relative obscurity to grab a top-four spot alongside Erik Karlsson. Despite missing all of last year, the Sharks re-signed the left-hander to a one-year, $850,000 contract, hoping he could pick up where he left off this fall.
By all accounts, his off-season training was going well: Last month, San Jose Hockey Now’s Lizz Child saw him skating with Mario Ferraro and Kevin Labanc at Sharks Ice.
“He looks good out there,” San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier said on Aug. 1. “I think he’ll be ready to go for camp. Once he gets to camp, we’ll go from there. It’s been a long time since he’s had some game action.”
At least this is a different injury than the groin injury that took away Knyzhov’s 2021-22? Hopefully, the young, gregarious blueliner can recover fully in body and mind, and return to the NHL this year.
As for Grier and the San Jose Sharks, UFA left-handed defensive options include veterans Calvin de Haan, Danny DeKeyser, Jack Johnson, Andy Greene, Kris Russell, and Ryan Murray.
Right-handers P.K. Subban, Anton Stralman, and Michael Stone are also available.
It’s August, so the market has been picked pretty clean.
Internally, the Sharks can also look to prospects Santeri Hatakka, Ryan Merkley, and Artemi Kniazev to further establish themselves as NHL’ers. Hatakka and Kniazev are left-handers, though Hatakka is also accustomed to playing on the right side.
San Jose does already have Mario Ferraro, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Markus Nutivaara, Jaycob Megna, and Radim Simek on the left side, but the talented Knyzhov was one of just a handful of higher-ceiling defensive options on the roster.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.