USATSI_8859848_154158418_lowresThe San Jose Sharks may have hit a snag, as forward Logan Couture suffered an injury at practice on Thursday in New Jersey and was subsequently seen on crutches with a protective boot on his right foot and ankle.

“During a five on five drill, Couture went down in the corner and looked to be in significant pain. After taking several moments to sit up, he was helped off of the ice by Brent Burns and Brenden Dillon, and was putting no weight whatsoever on his right leg which was being elevated by a team trainer,” said CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz.

The team will have an official update on the injury on Friday, general manager Doug Wilson said, but at this point it doesn’t look good.

Couture is one of the key pieces of the San Jose puzzle and it was expected that he was going to enjoy an increased role this season. The centre was averaging close to 18 minutes of ice time a game and saw action on the penalty kill and power play.

He had a career-high 67 points in 82 games last season, including 27 goals.

And now, Couture has been centring the Sharks’ best line this season with Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward on his wings. He’s had an assist and a plus-1 rating over the course of three games. Plus, he was named an alternate captain.

Also, the Sharks were only carrying 22 players to start the current road trip. With AHL forward Melker Karlsson out with a lower body injury and Raffi Torres serving a 41-game suspension, there are some eligibility issues that could present a problem or two if Couture happens to be out for a long stretch.

The Sharks, then, could find themselves up against it to start the season. That adversity would test the group and they’d come up with a bunch of press-ready quotes about having to be “ready,” but this is tough news no matter how you look at it.

Centres Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney could be in line for a promotion to Couture’s spot, plus it looks all but certain that healthy scratch centre Ben Smith will suit up against the Devils on Friday.

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