The Sharks and Wild used to battle for bragging rights over the outcome of a series of trades between the two Western Conference franchises. The trades that saw Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, Brent Burns and others swap jerseys seem long ago and at this point the only significant pieces left over are Burns and Coyle.
Both teams boast new coaches in Pete DeBoer for the Sharks and Bruce Boudreau for the Wild. Minnesota sits in second in the Central, just a point behind Chicago, while San Jose is tied for first in the Pacific with Anaheim. The Sharks have two games in hand on the Ducks but can take control of the division with a win over the Wild tonight.
To do so they’ll need a win over a tough team without Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Tomas Hertl at the very least. They may also need to do it without David Schlemko and Mikkel Boekder, the former of whom was out with an injury on Tuesday and the latter of whom appears likely to be scratched after Wednesday’s practice.
That comes on the heels of Matt Nieto being placed on waivers. We got no immediate word of the forward being claimed, though teams have until the early morning today to get that claim in. Tommy Wingels and Nieto were both healthy scratches on Tuesday against the Kings, so it would be Wingels who draws in if Boedker is scratched and the Sharks don’t make any more call ups.
We can’t rule that out, of course, because San Jose has plenty of talented forwards knocking on the door. Daniel O’Regan is close to earning a call up at the center position, while Nikolay Goldobin and Adam Helewka both continue to excel for San Jose’s AHL affiliate. The Sharks enter the second half of the season with a good problem to have.
DeBoer expected Vlasic to return on Saturday but has yet to give a return time on the defender. So, like with Hertl, we will wait and see on the status of Schlemko. Stay tuned and go Sharks!