Schlemko close to return, but DeMelo filling in well for Sharks

Schlemko close to return, but DeMelo filling in well for Sharks

SAN JOSE – Injured Sharks defenseman David Schlemko practiced with the team on Wednesday for the first time since hurting his right knee on March 2 against Vancouver.

He hopes to be available to play in time for Saturday’s game against Anaheim, as the Sharks wrap up their six-game homestand. The 29-year-old said he has to “get my legs under me a little bit” before he can get back into a game.

“Probably not [Thursday against St. Louis], but realistically Saturday,” he said. “That’s what I’m kind of shooting for. Obviously it’s not completely up to me, but that’s what I’m shooting for.”

Schlemko’s injury wasn’t originally supposed to keep him out this long, as he went on the team’s two-game road trip immediately after it happened. Still, there was no structural damage to the knee, according to the defenseman.

“Just kind of got my knee buckled into the boards there,” he said. “Just one of those things, takes some time to heal. A little longer than we thought and hoped. … Feel fortunate, at the same time, that it wasn’t more serious. Just excited to get back.”

In 51 games this season, his first in San Jose, Schlemko has 15 points (2g, 13a) while battling through three separate minor injuries.

Whether Schlemko would play against the Ducks even if he were healthy would be up to coach Pete DeBoer, of course. Dylan DeMelo has been paired with Brenden Dillon on the third pair in Schlemko’s spot for the past six games, and has points in the last two.

DeMelo registered an assist on Joe Pavelski’s third period goal against the Sabres on Tuesday in the Sharks’ 4-1 win.

“Just happy to be in the lineup and just trying to contribute as much as I can to the team,” DeMelo said after the game. “I'm not really known for getting points, but I've been able to get a couple points the last couple of games. 

“Whatever I can do to help the team win, that's what I'm here for. It's been a lot of fun. It's definitely a lot better playing than sitting out for seven weeks. I'm just happy to be back in the lineup and [helping] the team win."

Melker Karlsson skated on his own on Wednesday, but is less likely to play before the end of the homestand, according to DeBoer. Karlsson has missed the last two games with a lower body injury.

“Nothing major has come up, no change, but…I would say doubtful for Saturday,” DeBoer said.

Karlsson has 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”