Radim Simek has officially been loaned to the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda, on a conditioning assignment.
After tearing his ACL and MCL in his right knee against the Winnipeg Jets on March 12, Simek had reconstructive surgery and has been working his way back to the lineup ever since. Simek started skating with the team during training camp in September, and the now-ready 27-year-old blueliner will likely look to make his debut with the ‘Cuda on Wednesday, October 30 against the Bakersfield Condors at 11 a.m. at SAP Center.
The Sharks can expect to have Simek back on their blueline as early as Friday, November 1 against the Winnipeg Jets, though the normative stint length for such conditioning assignments typically ranges from one to two weeks time. The news of Simek’s return comes at a time where Sharks Head Coach Pete DeBoer described recent road losses to the John Tavares-less Toronto Maple Leafs and rebuilding Ottawa Senators, along with the team’s overall struggles to start the season, as “rock-bottom.”
Simek proved to be a particular revelation for his 2018-19 partner Brent Burns, as the six-foot, 200-pound defenseman stabilized Burns’ Norris Trophy-earning offensive play with great chemistry in covering for him with exceptional play defensively in 41 games last season.
As Simek plays on the left side of defense, it remains unclear as to how his return may impact the team’s defensive pairings. One can assume with a fair degree of certainty that the coaching staff will pair Simek with Burns once more. Though with Marc-Eduard Vlasic, Brendan Dillon, and Mario Ferraro all left-handed shots, we could perhaps see one of these three play on their off-side on the right in place of Tim Heed, who has seen limited minutes and clear indications of displeasure from the coaching staff.
However, given the coaching staff’s historical reluctance to play defensemen on their off-sides and the Sharks’ struggles with top-6 forward talent particularly at ring wing to start the season with the departures of Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist and Jonas Donskoi, there always remains the potential for San Jose General Manager Doug Wilson to trade from an area of strength to an area of need.
Whatever the case, the Sharks will welcome Simek back with open arms whenever he does return to the team, as they look to better their team struggles in the final game of their current road trip Tuesday afternoon against the red-hot Boston Bruins at 4 p.m. PT.