It appears as though James Reimer is likely to miss some time with an injury: the San Jose Sharks have acquired a goaltender, and it’s yet another familiar face coming back to a former crease. Alex Stalock is returning to the Sharks, in exchange for future considerations to the Edmonton Oilers.
It’ll be a fitting place if it’s where the 34-year-old will end his career when he becomes a free agent this summer; the Sharks drafted Stalock in the fourth round (112 overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He came up through the team’s AHL system after three years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, but during a lackluster 2015-16 campaign, he was notably traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for one James Reimer, to push the Sharks to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.
Having been sent back down to the AHL that season, a journey back to the NHL began. He signed with his hometown Minnesota Wild in free agency that summer and he played the 2016-17 season with their AHL team in Iowa. Slowly, he earned opportunities at the NHL level, especially as Minnesota parted ways with long-time starter Devan Dubnyk (another former Sharks netminder in this story).
The Wild offered Stalock a late career renaissance, and likely could have been a hometown retirement story if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. In Nov. 2020, Stalock contracted an asymptomatic case of COVID and developed myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that can lead to cardiac arrest. He ultimately missed the entirety of the 2020-21 season due to the condition, was placed on waivers and claimed by the Oilers in March 2021.
In Jan. 2022, Stalock began his second journey back to the NHL. After getting the all-clear, the Oilers placed him on waivers to assign him to the AHL Bakersfield Condors. He’s since appeared in five games, posting an .862 save percentage, 3-1-0 record and 3.81 goals-against average.
“The acquisition of Alex gives our club another goaltender with significant NHL experience,” said Sharks assistant general manager Joe Will in a release. “He is a player we are very familiar with and someone who is extremely well-liked by his teammates.”
Goaltender Adin Hill will be eligible to come off injured reserve tomorrow and may begin practicing with the team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be game-ready. He hasn’t played since Jan. 22. Reimer was injured in the first period of Tuesday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, and it’s possible over-use contributed to the injury. Back-up Zach Sawchenko, who has played admirably in relief, has yet to start an NHL game.
The San Jose Barracuda also have Alexei Melnichuk, who may move on from the club this summer as a pending restricted free agent, and Zacharie Emond, who has mostly played in the ECHL this year, in his first professional season.
Stalock is in the final year of a front-loaded three-year deal signed with Paul Fenton’s Wild in Jan. 2019. He carries a cap hit of $785,000, with an actual salary and minors salary of $750,000.