The San Jose Sharks have announced that defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov has been activated from his long-term injury conditioning loan, and re-assigned to the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda.
This return is a long time coming for Knyzhov, 24, who has been recovering from an Achilles injury for over a year. Before his conditioning stint began in January, Knyzhov had last played competitive hockey in May 2021, when he skated in over 21 minutes of a Sharks 6-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Before his injury, Knyzhov had steadily developed for the Sharks, going from a depth defenseman in 2019-20 to a candidate for top-four ice time in 2020-21. He’d taken a bit of a wild road to that point, with stops in the WHL, his native Russia, and the NAHL.
Now, Knyzhov has worked his way back to full health and has re-entered the Sharks’ defensive picture. He’s largely skated in a top-four role during his three-game conditioning stint with the Barracuda and will head back there to in all likelihood play a major role for the squad.
The Sharks currently carry seven defenseman, five of whom either have significant NHL experience or have been leaned on by coach David Quinn. It’s possible that Knyzhov unseats Scott Harrington or Jacob MacDonald for a role in the NHL lineup, although he’ll likely need to spend some time in the AHL getting back up to speed first.