The injury bug is really testing the Sharks’ blue line depth. As soon as Marc-Edouard Vlasic returned, Dylan DeMelo was gone. Then Paul Martin missed Wednesday night’s contest against the Calgary Flames at the last moment, forcing the Sharks to skate with five defenders.
To recap, the following defenders were not available for Wednesday’s game: David Schlemko, Paul Martin, Dylan DeMelo.
The good news: Martin is likely a day-to-day situation and will probably return to the lineup on Saturday and Tim Heed, who made his NHL debut on Wednesday, looked pretty darn solid. It’s also in the realm of possibility that Schlemko gets back into the lineup on Saturday.
If that’s the case, Heed’s impressive debut might not matter much. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun have been triumphantly reunited and if Brent Burns and Paul Martin and David Schlemko and Brenden Dillon can all get back together... well... shoot. I’ll be able to breathe again.
Regardless of the relative health of San Jose defenders, Heed finished with a team-best +5 corsi at even strength and took one shot on goal in his NHL debut. The defender also blocked a pair of shots, had a takeaway and played in 16:29, including 51 seconds on the power play.
Now that we’ve scared away Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz, I thought the Swedish defender looked pretty darn good against the Flames. I wouldn’t say he’s passed Mirco Mueller on the depth chart, but he definitely offers a different look. Getting an opportunity to play in a game with six defenders would help (breaking news!) but I liked what I saw from him with Brenden Dillon.
Of course this all becomes moot, in my opinion, if the Sharks get 100 percent healthy on the blue line. When the Sharks were healthy they had the best defensive group in the NHL. That doesn’t change when Mueller, DeMelo or Heed is introduced — at least not yet. Once next season rolls around and the expansion draft kicks in, we’re talking about a different situation.
For now, it’s great that the Sharks have the defensive depth that they aren’t drowning when they lose players like Schlemko and Martin for a game here or there. In the long term these aren’t players they can go without, of course, and they’d certainly be hosed in the playoffs. But down the road I like what the future holds. It also bodes well if you’ve got tickets to a Barracuda game this weekend — not that I’m suggesting anything.