Healthy McLaren could finally stick in San Jose

Healthy McLaren could finally stick in San Jose
January 17, 2013, 4:30 pm
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McLaren has played in 39 NHL games with the Sharks over parts of three seasons, but has yet to spend a full season in the show. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN JOSE – Chosen by the Sharks in the seventh round of the 2007 draft, Frazer McLaren has had his share of success at the NHL level. He’s also had his share of frustrating injuries.

In 2011-12, it was the latter. McLaren had offseason hip surgery, and it prevented him from competing for a roster spot in training camp. He played in just 20 games for the Sharks’ AHL affiliate in Worcester, recording one assist and 73 penalty minutes, and played in seven games for San Jose, going scoreless with nine PIM.

Now, 25-year-old forward is healthy, and was one of eight Worcester players brought in to the abbreviated training camp. He’s been spotted on the fourth line wing, alongside Andrew Desjardins and Adam Burish, and could be poised to make the opening night roster.

McLaren has played in 39 NHL games with the Sharks over parts of three seasons, but has yet to spend a full season in the show. This 48-game campaign could be the year.

“I think the more time you get to spend up here and the longer you’re in the organization, the more comfortable you feel at this level,” said McLaren, who has one assist and 87 penalty minutes in 26 games with Worcester this year. “I had some early success here and was hampered by a few injuries the last couple years, which maybe limited my time up here. But, this is such a great organization at developing players and giving players chances. I definitely feel confident that I can play at this level.”

Todd McLellan said: “Last year at this time, he had been going through some problems with his lower body and wasn’t able to skate. Big men in this league have to be able to move their bodies. Right now, I see him healthy and able to move his body on the ice, and get to places he couldn’t get to last year.”

The Sharks, who are expected to name their roster shortly, will likely carry the full 23 players to start. Besides McLaren, Bracken Kearns and James Sheppard have also been spotted on the fourth line left wing throughout the week. The player that suits up in that position for the game could depend on the opponent.

McLaren, at 6-5, 235 pounds, brings a little bit more bulk to the lineup than the other two, and can drop the gloves. That could come in handy.

“He’s a physical guy, he has a reputation for taking care of his teammates and being involved, and he knows his role,” McLellan said. “We don’t have to clarify it at all with him.”

McLaren said: “That’s something I did in the past here, and I think I need to improve on just playing as good as I can when I get called upon to be in the lineup. Hopefully, I can fill that spot.”

No interest in Redden

The Sharks have some injury concerns on their blue line with Brent Burns and Jason Demers currently unavailable, but don’t expect them to make a run at unrestricted free agent defenseman Wade Redden.

According to Redden’s agent in an email to CSNCalifornia.com, the Sharks have not inquired about the player who was bought out of his expensive contract by the New York Rangers on Thursday.

A Sharks source confirmed there is no interest.

No easy day

One day after holding a spirited scrimmage at Sharks Ice, the team went back to work on the finer details of the game on Thursday. That included more work on the power play and penalty kill.

“There’s teams around the league that have actually taken days off already. We didn’t feel we needed that, but we needed to shorten things up and make it more compact,” McLellan said of Thursday's skate.

The head coach is generally pleased with his team’s conditioning level. Generally.

“As a whole, yes. I have a couple concerns. The interesting thing about the concerns, is how much more can you work them without hurting them, and where do you find the time to get it done? I think over time, they’ll get better,” he said.

Incidentally, just like their top two even strength forward lines, the Sharks’ power play units look the same as they did at the end of last season. That means Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture are up front on the top unit with Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski at the points; while Ryane Clowe, Marty Havlat, Tommy Wingels, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun comprise the second unit.

That makes sense, as the Sharks’ power play finished second in the NHL last season (21.1 percent).