Erik Karlsson injury: 'He’s obviously getting close,' says GM

Justin K. Aller

Erik Karlsson is apparently ahead of schedule on his rehabilitation and could potentially play in the postseason.

Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson experienced one of the most gruesome injuries a hockey player can imagine when 70 percent of his Achilles Tendon was lacerated by a skate blade in February.

Considering the severity -- and timing -- of the injury, it seemed assured that Karlsson would miss the remainder of the 2013 season.

Apparently, that is not as absolute a statement as originally was believed.

General manager Bryan Murray stated in an interview with Ian Mendes of Sportsnet on Wednesday that the organization hopes Karlsson will return in time for the playoffs.

Most surprisingly, Murray stated that the 22-year-old defender was "obviously getting closer" to a return.

Of course, the word "hope" comes up a lot when discussing Karlsson's potential return.

Video surfaced of his participation in skating drills on April 8 and captain Daniel Alfredsson stated that Karlsson had been texting him that he hoped to be back for the playoffs.

While he might be ahead of schedule, a premature return could prove catastrophic. This is arguably one of, if not the best, young defenders in the game today. Coming back too soon could result in further injury, which could delay his development.

This could negatively impact his future, which by all accounts is blindingly bright.

Of course, his return to the lineup could change the complexion of the Senators' playoff chances. Ottawa faced a slew of injuries this season and still appear to be heading to the postseason. If Milan Michalek is truly healthy and Jason Spezza can make enough progress to play in the second season, the team could find itself a sleeper in a weak Eastern Conference.

While Murray states that half of Karlsson is good enough for the Senators, a fully-capable Karlsson over the next 15 years is more valuable than a short-term boost.

More in the NHL:

Six (!) outdoor games in 2014

Welcoming Craig MacTavish as Oilers GM

Jimmy Howard’s case for the Vezina

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