In the span of a month and a half, Karson Kuhlman went from emerging lineup constant to the depths of injury rehab.
Finally coming out of the deep end from a hit that landed him on injured reserve after a collision along the boards on Jan. 30, in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the fourth year forward enjoyed graduated status in his first full-time practice back with the Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on Tuesday.
No longer restricted to an early morning ice surface with fellow injured teammates and coaches, Kuhlman skated in a non-contact, red-colored jersey and participated in several game-simulated drills, on a line with Riley Sheahan and Morgan Geekie, maneuvering past necessary benchmarks to feel comfortable on the ice again.
“I was able to get out and skate with the brace to start,” said Kuhlman. The biggest step was touch of pucks and having that mobility back. We worked a lot with trainers to get mobility and strength back, so it’s definitely going in right direction.”
No timeline is confirmed yet for when Kuhlman, a former Boston Bruins foward that reached Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final three years ago, will return to game action.
“The big step is getting back into practice – he’s done that today,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “He’s done a lot on his own but it’s different getting into practice. He had a good day out there – he performed pretty well in the battle drills and game like drills, so it was a good day for him.”
Hakstol said further evaluation was to come later Tuesday afternoon, the day before the Kraken welcome the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning to open a brief two-game homestand. The 26-year old forward began to find a consistent place in the lineup after being claimed off waivers from the Bruins on Jan. 17 and appeared in four straight games before leaving the game against the Rangers.
He was only two days away from a potential “revenge game” against Boston, awaiting on Feb. 2. Kuhlman was placed on injured reserve the day prior, admitting the circumstances “threw off a lot of plans.”
Kuhlman said he had surgery, followed by a grand gesture of camaraderie. It wasn’t just one teammate who reached out to him.
“Everybody – we got a great group in there,” said Kuhlman. “Text, calls, just checking in. There’s a good group of guys in there and they know how to handle it.”
KRAKEN LINE COMBINATIONS, PRACTICE, MAR. 15:
Unit 1: Giordano, Geekie, Schwartz, McCann, Johansson
Unit 2: Dunn, Eberle, Jarnkrok, Gourde, Donato