Senators' Karlsson cleared for contact, practices with team Staff

4/19/2013 8:52:36 PM

It appears that Erik Karlsson is getting closer to making a return to the Ottawa Senators' lineup.

The team said on Friday that the Norris Trophy-winning defenceman has been cleared for contact and will focus on getting into game shape.

Senators general manager Bryan Murray told reporters that Karlsson saw doctors on Thursday where he received the good news.

Karlsson fully participated in Ottawa's practice on Friday.

"It's nice to be back with the team and being able to participate in practice is something that's been a while since I did so obviously it feels really good just to be out there," said Karlsson. "Even if it wasn't the hardest practice in the world, it's still a nice boost mentally."

The 22-year-old blueliner had his left achilles tendon cut by the skate of Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke on Feb. 13 and had surgery to repair it.

At the time the team feared that Karlsson would miss three to four months, but Karlsson is nearing a return after just over nine weeks.

"It's tough to say exactly how good I feel, obviously I don't feel like I used to," said Karlsson. "As long as I don't get any pain or have any setbacks and I wake up tomorrow and it feels like it did today or even better, it's a good sign and shows that I can keep doing what I'm doing and push forward."

Head coach Paul MacLean said that there is no timetable for Karlsson's return to game action, but when the defenceman says he's ready, the team will consider playing him.

"He looks like Erik Karlsson so I think it's a real positive for the team and a good shot of energy for the team," said MacLean. "We'll just have to see where it goes and what it leads to."

Karlsson had six goals and four assists in 14 games when he suffered the injury. Despite playing the majority of their season without their top blueliner, the Senators stand sixth in the Eastern Conference and are closing in on a post-season berth.