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Sharks' Karlsson hitting stride at perfect time as free agency looms

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DENVER – The stride is starting to look almost as good as the payday will.

Make no mistake, Erik Karlsson’s focus throughout his long, uncomfortable battle back from a groin injury has nothing to do with whether he’ll make $10 or $11 million annually on the open market this summer.

It’s about the Cup he fell so agonizingly short of two years ago as captain of the Ottawa Senators.

However, for the short list of potential suitors wondering if and how much they’ll be willing to pony up this summer for the two-time Norris Trophy winner, his play at the most important time of the year matters.

His 10 assists in 10 games is a testament to his skill and fortitude, as he sits just two points off the playoff scoring lead despite a first-round stride that spoke to the five weeks he missed at the end of the season.

And while the hockey world loves to talk about where he’ll hang his hat next, the 28-year-old Swede scoffed when asked how he manages to keep those thoughts at bay.

"It’s easy – I’ve been able to do that........

© Sportsnet