Will Erik Karlsson’s health affect his upcoming free agency?

During Headlines the panel discussed the future of Erik Karlsson with the San Jose Sharks. They also spoke on some NHL teams search for a new head coach.

Even as Erik Karlsson and his San Jose Sharks play in the Western Conference Final, the weight of the star defenceman’s impending unrestricted free agency continues to loom.

One wrinkle that hasn’t been widely discussed with his free agency, however, is his injury history. Despite playing right now, it’s been observed that Karlsson doesn’t look to be at 100 per cent coming off a groin injury, in addition to the previous surgeries he’s had to go through.

“You watch St. Louis taking runs at him and there’s no question that he’s not at 100 per cent,” said Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos of Karlsson during the second intermission of Game 1 between the Sharks and the St. Louis Blues. “You look at the injury history and he still has the groin issue and there’s no question when I watch him it’s still a factor. It caused him to miss the last 27 of 33 games. And this, of course, leads to the question of ‘Where is Erik Karlsson going after July 1 [as an] unrestricted free agent?’”

Given Karlsson’s impressive resume when he’s been able to play he’ll probably be looking for big money to remain with the Sharks or with another team on the open market, but it’s possible that his health may prevent him from finding that payday, says Kypreos.

“There is still some feeling that San Jose is very much interested in locking him in but the numbers and the term that we thought may not be there and it may be based on his history,” he said. “I don’t know whether or not if there’s a team willing to go as much as seven years or even matching a Drew Doughty contract at [$11 million] might be a stretch when you consider what he’s been through.”

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