San Jose - May 25, 2019 - Erik Karlsson said he stays in the moment, which is why he hasn't thought about where he'll play in the NHL next season.
"Right now, I'm here talking to you guys, cleaning out my locker, which is all that I'm worried about for the time being," the San Jose Sharks defenseman, who can become an unrestricted agent for the first time in his career July 1, said Thursday. "Now I have to kind of regroup and assess everything. A lot of things can happen."
Having completed his first season with San Jose, Karlsson thanked the organization, his teammates and the fans in a tweet Friday, saying, "It was a great run that ended too early."
Karlsson, who was acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Sept. 13, had 45 points (three goals, 42 assists) in 53 regular-season games and 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games for San Jose.
Karlsson did not travel for Game 6 of the Western Conference Final against the St. Louis Blues after leaving in the second period of Game 5, but he wouldn't elaborate on his injury or whether he needs surgery. He just said it was something he'd been dealing with since January.
"I don't think that anything that we could have done would have changed the outcome," Karlsson said. "I was very fortunate to be able to play pretty much all the games, except the last one, in the playoffs at a reasonable level, even for my standards. I think that's great.
"Everybody is dealing with something. You have to play through things. I was able to do that. For that, I'm proud and grateful. It's nothing major. It's just going to take some time and figure everything out. It should be something that's easy to deal with. That's as much as I know."
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said he wouldn't discuss contracts out of respect for the players, but he admired how Karlsson fought through his injury.
"He certainly wasn't 100 percent, but he gave us all he could," Wilson said. "I think we had [Karlsson] healthy for maybe six weeks, and he showed what he was capable of. There's such a fine line between being injured and being hurt. Guys will bring whatever they can, that's the nature of hockey players. You have to protect players from themselves, and also admire their heart and commitment."
Karlsson said the Sharks have treated him with "nothing but class and respect" since he arrived in San Jose. Now, he has to decide whether he'll return.
"I've worked hard for 10 years in this league to be in the position that I'm in. I've earned that," Karlsson said. "It's a big responsibility and decision coming up for me personally. I haven't really dealt with that (UFA) process yet. I'll do everything I can to make the best decision for myself and for the team that is going to want me."