This morning, the San Jose Sharks announced that seven players have been removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol and added to the team’s active roster.
Kevin Labanc, Erik Karlsson, Timo Meier, Jake Middleton, Matthew Nieto, Radim Simek and Marc-Edouard Vlasic will return and meet the team in Denver ahead of their game against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Sharks head coach Bob Boughner, head trainer Ray Tufts, and equipment manager Mike Aldrich are also returning to the team.
With this move, the Sharks have also sent down seven players to the American Hockey League to report to the San Jose Barracuda. Artemi Kniazev, Nicholas Meloche, Jaycob Megna, Ryan Merkley, Joel Kellman, Sasha Chmelevski and John Leonard have all be re-assigned.
Merkley and Megna filled the third-pairing roles in the absence of Vlasic and Simek, and did a good job on the defensive end. Merkley finished his stint with 1 goal and a -0.60 goals above replacement (GAR) through six games, while Megna was held off of the scoresheet, but held a respectable 0.60 GAR.
Meloche assumed the spot on the second-pairing, replacing Karlsson on the right-hand side. He tallied 1 assist and 0.20 GAR over six games.
Kniazev played just one game during his time up with the Sharks, mainly running as the seventh defenseman with the team. He went scoreless in that time.
Leonard took on a role in the bottom-six with the big club, and was most recently on the fourth-line right-wing spot. He was also scoreless through five games, along with a -0.30 GAR.
Kellman and Chmelevski did not suit up for NHL action during this time, serving as extra forwards.
It is interesting to note that Nick Merkley stayed up in the NHL, despite being one of the call-ups from the AHL when the Sharks lost their players. It looks like he impressed the coaching staff as much as he did the fans and will stay with the NHL club, for now. He has scored 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) and a 1.40 GAR through six games.
The Sharks went 3-2-1 during the six-game stint without the players on COVID Protocol, and will now look forward to having a full healthy line up going forward.
The Barracuda will also look forward to getting their players back, as they are off to a 3-3-1 start to the season and have struggled with an even more depleted roster than the Sharks.