7:00pm CT: Pavelski has officially been added to the list of absences from the Sharks’ lineup tonight. The captain, who is also an impending unrestricted free agent, may have already played in his final game for San Jose if the team is eliminated tonight and opts not to re-sign him this off-season.
12:00pm CT: The San Jose Sharks will be without at least two of their stars for tonight’s elimination game. Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl both did not make the trip to St. Louis to face the Blues in game six of the Western Conference Final. Joe Pavelski, who did make the trip but missed this morning’s optional skate, is a game-time decision for the Sharks.
Karlsson has been dealing with a groin injury for much of the season and was obviously limited in game five, disappearing from the bench in the third period entirely. The star defenseman was probably a detriment to his team for that game, but has actually had an excellent postseason despite the injury. In 19 games Karlsson has 16 points, and still leads the entire Stanley Cup playoffs with 14 assists.
Hertl meanwhile was likely hurt on a play where he collided with Ivan Barbashev near center ice, though he would return to the game for a while. Hertl too was kept out of the third period as the Sharks continued to play more and more short handed. The 25-year old has turned into arguably the most dangerous offensive forward for the Sharks this season, recording 35 goals and 74 points during the regular season. He didn’t stop when the playoffs began, and has 15 points—including ten goals—through 19 games.
Losing these two is obviously a huge blow to a Sharks team that is trying to stay alive once again in these playoffs. It also may have an effect on Karlsson’s future, given that he is still unsigned and scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Speculation over his market has already begun, with his injury history affecting how the league sees him moving forward.