Sharks activate Clowe, Niemi out

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Sharks activate Clowe, Niemi out

SAN JOSE -- Sharks left wing Ryane Clowe, who's missed six games with a facial fracture, will return tonight to face the Dallas Stars. Goalie Antti Niemi, though, suffered a minor injury in Wednesdays in practice at Sharks Ice and won't suit up.

He took a shot in practice and wont play or backup today. He feels pretty good today, and I think it will be a one-day thing, Todd McLellan said on Thursday morning.

In corresponding moves, defenseman Jason Demers was placed on injured reserve with a lower body injury and the team called up reserve goalie Tyson Sexsmith from Worcester to serve as backup. Thomas Greiss will start.

Clowe is anxious to return, but will have to wear a visor for the time being for added protection.

I think its just probably smart for at least another little bit to keep it on, make sure I dont have anything happen or get smacked there again, he said. It was weird, really weird. Today was the first time I wore a visor in awhile. It was a little better than a cage.

Clowe wore a cage immediately following his injury against Minnesota on Jan. 10, playing in three subsequent games before coming out of the lineup.

He started skating on Monday for the first time in two weeks.

I think the first period will be a bit of a battle tonight; Im sure Ill be sucking wind a little bit, he said. Im sure Ill have spit and snot and everything else on my visor that Ill be trying to battle through. Thats what Ive got to get used to, and the legs come after that. Ive got to be able to see first.

Does he expect to hear any chirping for wearing a visor from the Stars, perhaps from noted agitator Steve Ott?

Maybe. I think they know that theres something going on if Ive got a visor on. Theyve seen my act before, Clowe joked.

Meanwhile, Greiss will start in goal, while Antero Niittymaki, who passed through waivers last week, was reassigned to Worcester.

Sexsmith, who was named to the 2012 AHL All-Star Team, is fifth in the AHL in goals-against average (2.15), and ninth in save percentage at .925.

The Sharks have not allowed a goal in more than two games, dating back to Jan. 23 in Edmonton. Niemi recorded back-to-back shutouts against Calgary on Jan. 24 and Columbus on Tuesday.

Greiss is 6-4-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 11 games this season.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

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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.”