SAN JOSE -- One mans misfortune is another mans opportunity.
Martin Havlat, the unfortunate one in this case, will miss the Sharks season-opening game on Saturday against Phoenix. He still hasnt quite recovered from left shoulder surgery in May, revealed a follow-up visit with his doctor in Cleveland on Wednesday.
Im disappointed because I wanted to start the season with everybody, said Havlat after an early morning skate at Sharks Ice on Thursday. Everything is the way its supposed to be at this time after the surgery, so were just taking it day-by-day.
The good news regarding Havlat is that he doesnt have any pain, and he only needs to build the strength back up in the injured shoulder. He took part in both sessions of practice as the team skated for nearly two hours.
In fact, he looked healthy enough in practice thatLogan Couture was surprised when given the news that one of the Sharks major offseason acquisitions would not be able to play.
I didnt know until you just told me. He looks really good out there, to me, said Couture.
While McLellan isnt thrilled over the prospect of having five full days between the teams first and second games, it could give Havlat a good chance to fully recover and make his Sharks debut on Friday, October 14 when the team visits Anaheim.
Havlat wouldnt commit to that date either, though.
Well see. It helps me, for sure that we dont have many games there. Well keep working on it, and it just needs to get a little more stronger and its going to be fine after, he said.
With Havlat unavailable,Tommy Wingels will fill the void left on the Couture-Ryane Clowe line. The 23-year-old Evanston, Illinois native has had a strong training camp and preseason, and has a huge opportunity in front of him according to head coach Todd McLellan.
Obviously, hes earned a spot here, and a chance to be on the opening night roster. Now, the rest is up to him and hes got to live up to that and play just as he has throughout exhibition season, said McLellan.
Im very excited, Wingels said. Just to be up here and play with those guys is unbelievable. They are great players, have such good chemistry together, and I just hope to compliment them any way I can.
Wingels began last season on the Sharks roster, but played in just five games, spending the majority of the year with the teams AHL affiliate in Worcester.
Sharks starting goalie Antti Niemi skated with the team for the first half of practice on Thursday, and McLellan will announce on Friday whether or not Niemi can suit up for the teams opening game.
Niemi skated today and did well. I can probably tell you tomorrow, said McLellan.
Goaltenders Thomas Greiss and Harri Sateri were both listed on the NHLs list of opening night rosters, while Niemi, Havlat and Antero Niittymaki were marked as injured. That can change by Saturday, however.
If Niemi cant go, Greiss will almost certainly get the call while Sateri would be the backup.