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Deep Blue Sea: Sharks trying to earn a roster spot

Plus Bob Murray resigns, a Nathan MacKinnon injury update and more in today’s news and notes.

San Jose Sharks Defenceman Nicolas Meloche (53) and Calgary Flames Center Mikael Backlund (11) compete for position in front of San Jose Sharks Goalie Adin Hill (33) during the first period on November 9, 2021, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Canada has generally treated the San Jose Sharks well, but their next game after tonight’s matchup against the Winnipeg Jets will be against the Colorado Avalanche — the anticipated first game back for head coach Bob Boughner and the seven players who have been indisposed via the NHL’s COVID Protocol.

It’s been a whirlwind of an experience for the Sharks, with John Maclean stepping up behind the bench and a slew of players from the San Jose Barracuda filling in (and in some cases, making their NHL debuts). Boughner spoke about how proud he and the team was of everyone, in the first media availability since his being placed on protocols. “The coaching staff — really proud of those guys ... proud of our veterans and leadership ... and the young guys who have come and stepped up.”

Everyone, from the coaching staff to the AHL call-ups to the regular-roster Sharks have worked hard in unusual circumstances to fight their way to some wins on the ice, but now that time is coming to a close, the Sharks have some tough decisions to make regarding their roster. The anticipated returning roster members are Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, Jake Middleton, Matt Nieto, Radim Simek, Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Without William Eklund, there’s a spot open on the wing, but that’s less of a problem considering that Alex Barabanov and Jonah Gadjovich were dependable extras pre-COVID outbreak, and Nick Merkley has certainly proven himself useful, with 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in five games.

Defense is more of a question, although the Sharks’ downfalls have all fallen at the feet of the inexperienced defense. Santeri Hatakka may become a regular healthy scratch again, or the Sharks may give him some more time to prove himself in the NHL, potentially on the Sharks’ bottom D-pair. Or the Sharks may feel that Jaycob Megna or Nicolas Meloche have shown their physicality and enthusiasm are worthwhile. Ryan Merkley may very well stay up and become an extra on defense in place of Hatakka.

Whatever the Sharks decide regarding their roster, it’ll come soon, and the Sharks’ showing against the Winnipeg Jets will help decide the fate of some of the players who are on the fringes of an NHL roster spot.

News & Notes

  • Brent Burns’ recent play is reminiscent of the Norris trophy-caliber years [The Mercury News]
  • Former Canucks prospect Dahlen thriving as a first-line player in San Jose [Daily Hive]
  • William Eklund is back in Djurgården (Translated) [Djurgården IF]

Blood in the Water

  • Edmonton Oilers sign Matvey Petrov to three-year entry level contract [OilersNation]
  • Blues assign forward Jake Neighbours to WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings [The Athletic]
  • Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray resigns, will enroll in alcohol abuse program [ESPN]
  • Eichel confident he’ll be better than ever for Vegas after neck surgery [NHL]
  • Addiction & Substance Abuse in the NHL – It’s Bigger Than the Game [The Hockey Writers]
  • Couple settles sexual assault case with Pittsburgh Penguins [ESPN]
  • Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon to miss three weeks “give or take” with injury [The Denver Post]
  • Rask skates at Bruins rink, free agent’s return from hip surgery unclear [NHL]

Scores & Recaps

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On the schedule