Erik Karlsson “shut down” until February; contract talks begin

Karlsson is questionable for the All-Star Game.

Sharks defender Erik Karlsson will not play this afternoon against the Florida Panthers nor tomorrow at the Washington Capitals, head coach Peter DeBoer said, as reported by Paul Gackle of the San Jose Mercury News.

Karlsson’s lower-body injury made him a last-minute scratch in the Sharks’ Saturday loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

DeBoer hopes that keeping Karlsson out for these two games will allow him to be healthy enough to play in the All-Star Game on Saturday. It would be his sixth All-Star appearance and first as a member of the Sharks.

Gackle also reported that Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who was placed on Injured Reserve yesterday, is “an option” for the Panthers game. Vlasic’s IR status would have to be retroactive in order for this to be possible.

While Karlsson is out of the lineup, his agent Don Meehan has begun to speak with General Manager Doug Wilson, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. This signals the beginning of contract talks in preparation for Karlsson to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. San Jose cannot sign Karlsson for the maximum eight years until after the 2019 NHL trade deadline on Monday, Feb. 25.