SAN JOSE Its been a long time since Frazer McLaren played an NHL hockey game.
The Sharks recalled McLaren from Worcester on Saturday after a two-week conditioning assignment expired. After rehabbing from offseason hip surgery and playing some games with the clubs AHL affiliate, McLaren is now an option at forward for the Sharks.
He took part in practice on Sunday at Sharks Ice, and accompanied the team to Los Angeles later in the day. McLaren last appeared in an NHL game on Nov. 18, 2010 at Dallas.
The hip feels good, he said. I played some pretty big minutes in Worcester and I definitely feel if theres an opening in the lineup for me to play, Id be ready to go.
It gives us another piece that we can use, said Todd McLellan. Well make decisions nightly on lineups, and injuries, and health, and opponent and all that stuff. But, Fraz obviously brings a different ingredient to the table some size, some strength, and skates well for a big man. We have that option now.
To recap, McLaren originally hurt the hip while playing in Worcester last season and tried to play through it until March. When it didn't fully heal, he opted to have a procedure on May 2 that has sidelined him ever since.
In seven games in Worcester, McLaren was scoreless with 18 penalty minutes.
I dont think I had ever gone that long without playing hockey so it was a bit of an adjustment. I felt better as all the games went on and it was good to get down there and play seven games, get some confidence and get some ice time.
And as for the fighting majors?
Even if I was only down there for two weeks, they are still my teammates and I have to stick up for them, he said.
McLaren may have to wait to get his chance, though. The Sharks fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Andrew Murray and Brad Winchester has been effective for most of the month of November. They have even managed to contribute on the scoreboard, as evidenced by Murrays goal against Vancouver on Saturday night.
The 6-5, 250-pound McLaren, who has just 32 career NHL games over two seasons under his belt, realizes that there may not be a place for him at the moment.
You have to give those three lots of credit, theyre playing awesome. Im sure thats exactly what Todd wants from the fourth line, he said.
McLellan cautions that McLaren will have to adjust back to the speed of the NHL game when hes reinserted back into the lineup.
Like anybody who missed almost a full year of hockey, he was rusty to begin with, even in the American League, said the coach. I would imagine when he starts here, the pace is going to be quicker than what he played there.
It will be an adjustment period, but we have to give him the opportunity at some point to get his game back here.