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Report: Sharks sign Czech d-man Simek

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He’s spent his entire pro career in the Czech Republic.

Czech Republic v USA - 2016 IIHF World Championship Ice Hockey: Quarter Final Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks signed Czech defenseman Radim Simek to a one-year-deal, according to iSport in the Czech Republic (as translated by Radio Praha). The deal is a two-way contract, according to Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz, and will be worth $830,000 at the NHL level, according to iSport.

Simek has played his entire professional career in his native Czech Republic. The 24-year-old played for Liberec in the Czech Extraliga over the last five seasons, and spent parts of those three seasons on loan to HC Benátky nad Jizerou in the country’s second division.

He brings solid offensive ability on the blueline, as he scored 21 or more points in each of the last three seasons, including 24 in the regular season this year. In each of those seasons, Simek scored nine or more goals, leading the Extraliga in goals among defensemen in 2014-15 as well as this year.

The defenseman also scored 8 points in 16 postseason games, as Liberec finished as runners-up in the Extraliga a year after winning the championship. During that championship run, Simek was named the postseason MVP, and he scored 10 points in 14 playoff games. Most recently, Simek suited up for the Czech Republic at this spring’s World Championships.

That postseason, award-winning pedigree profiles similarly to other European free agents the Sharks have signed in recent seasons. Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi, Tim Heed, and Marcus Sorensen all won championships in their respective countries, while Donskoi was also a postseason MVP and Heed led his league in goal-scoring among defensemen.

All four players have spent some time with the Sharks, with Heed spending the least amount of time on the team, as well as facing the biggest challenge in breaking into the roster with seven defensemen ahead of him on the depth chart. The Sharks could lose a defenseman in the expansion draft, and if they don’t re-sign Heed, a pending restricted free agent, Simek’s path to the NHL roster is clearer.

Before then, he will probably begin the season in the American Hockey League with the San Jose Barracuda, Kurz reported. The Sharks will announce Simek’s contract later this week, a source told Kurz.

Correction (5:14 PM PST): A previous version of this article stated Tim Heed is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He will be a restricted free agent. The article has been updated and we regret this error.