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Sharks recall Radil, reassign Gambrell

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The move seems to be more about getting Gambrell playing time than anything.

Sep 25, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; San Jose Sharks center Lukas Radil (52) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Lukas Radil gets to keep the press box warm
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks have recalled winger Lukas Radil. In a corresponding move, the organization has reassigned center Dylan Gambrell to the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League (AHL). Gambrell, a 22-year-old, has played in five National Hockey League (NHL) games during this season and last, and his results have been... uninspiring.

In those five contests, Gambrell has averaged about 10 minutes of ice time per night. With Gambrell on the ice, the Sharks have controlled about 12 percent fewer 5-on-5 shots than they do when adjusting for his teammates. The team has generated eight percent fewer expected goals relative to his teammates at 5-on-5, as well. We can blame the small sample size of ice time for some of those numbers. But it would be difficult to argue the forward has enjoyed success while playing at the highest level.

Radil, for his part, has notched six points — one goal and five assists — in 11 AHL contests this season. The Sharks signed the 28-year-old winger last spring, after the conclusion of his Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) season for Spartak Moskova (Moscow) in Russia. According to hockey analytics maven Emmanuel Perry’s prospect model, Radil has a near-zero chance of making the NHL and projects as a replacement-level skater were he to breach the threshold of the big league. It doesn’t seem as though change with the Sharks’ forward corps is imminent, however, or that Radil’s call-up is a result of his strong play. The move, according the Sharks’ coach Pete DeBoer, is intended to get Gambrell more ice time with the Barracuda.

If the team must fill the press box with a warm body, it seems the organization would prefer to do so with someone who is unlikely to make an impact at any level. This allows both prospects and NHL-ready players alike to actually play hockey. It seems a prudent move for an organization that has generally performed will this season at both the NHL and AHL levels.