Wingels hurt, Vandermeer close to return

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Wingels hurt, Vandermeer close to return

SAN JOSE The Sharks suffered another injury to their forward group in Thursday nights loss to Ottawa, as Tommy Wingels was hurt in the third period. Hell miss at least the next three games leading up to the NHL All-Star break with an upper body injury, according to Todd McLellan.

Wingels was recalled on Jan. 5, and was skating on Joe Thorntons line along with winger Joe Pavelski in the previous two games with Ryane Clowe out.

Wingels collided with Pavelski and Ottawas Chris Neil in front of the Sharks bench with 15:34 remaining in the third period, and appeared to grab his right arm in pain on what seemed like an innocent play.

With Wingels out, forward Andrew Desjardins took some shifts in his place late against the Senators. Thats how they lined up for Fridays practice at Sharks Ice, too.

We have some options, but probably no different from what weve been doing, McLellan said. Well try and audition a bunch of people. We cant just focus on the one player thats auditioning there, the other two have to perform and help out in that area, too.

Desjardins seems likely to get the first crack at it, though, just as Jamie McGinn did on Tuesday against Calgary before Wingels replaced him after the first period of the 2-1 shootout win.

Its just another opportunity, Desjardins said. Try to stick to my game and still do the same things. Hopefully, it works out.

Desjardins returned on Thursday from a two-game absence with to a head injury after getting hit illegally by Columbus Dane Byers last Saturday, playing just over 11 minutes. His first shift was a good one, as he set up Brad Winchester for what was the Sharks only goal against Ottawa.

He tried not to shy away from any physical play, despite the frightening moment his last time out.

You try to think about, youre healthy, youre good to go, and that youre ready to play, Desjardins said. You try not to stay away from physical stuff just because of that reason, because again, youre healthy and back ready to play. You move on, and get your game going to how it was before.

The Sharks are expected to recall a forward from Worcester in time for Saturday afternoons game in Vancouver.

Frazer McLaren remains on waivers until Saturday, at which time he will be reassigned to Worcester if he goes unclaimed.

Vandermeer close

Sharks defenseman Jim Vandermeer could make his return on the teams three-game road trip through Canada, McLellan said.

His injury, right now I would say its probably 99 percent, said the coach. Now, its about getting his game, his foot speed and reaction time back. So, were that close. If we get the clearance, it would be nice to get him in before the break so he doesnt go longer.

Vandermeer has missed the last 20 games with a left hand injury.

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.

But it might be a possibility.

According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.

Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.

The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas. 

Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.

Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”

As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.

Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.