The San Jose Sharks have done a nice job of re-making their roster over the past year, adding players like Erik Karlsson and Evander Kane to an already talented roster, but one area the team still needs help in is that the center position, particularly the third-line center position that was vacated by Chris Tierney when the Sharks traded him to the Ottawa Senators in the Karlsson move, according to Paul Gackle of The Mercury News.
After starting the season with Finnish import Antti Suomela for the first 13 games, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said he intends to sit Suomela and look at other options for that spot.
“I felt good until the last two games about our four-line game,” said DeBoer. “The answer to (the Tierney question) is internally in here. It’s just about guys grabbing that job and that opportunity.”
DeBoer believes that there are three in-house candidates who can take that center spot on the third line, including Suomela, Rourke Chartier and Dylan Gambrell. DeBoer hasn’t given up on Suomela being the answer, but notes that many players struggle after the first exciting stretch of games.
“You hit a little bit of a wall,” said DeBoer. “You take your foot off the gas a little bit. He’s out tonight and we’ll reset. He knows he can play in this league. He knows he can create offense in this league, but there’s a consistency to that compete level every night that maybe in some other leagues you don’t need. That’s something you have to learn.”
- The Vegas Golden Knights believe winger Max Pacioretty is close to returning as the 29-year-old was a full participant in Saturday’s morning skate and while he is not playing in Saturday’s game against Carolina, is expected to join the team on their upcoming four-game roadtrip, according to David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Pacioretty has missed three straight games after taking a severe hit from Tampa Bay Lighning defenseman Braydon Coburn and is still listed as day-to-day. “Everything’s going real well,” coach Gerard Gallant said after practice. “He told me it’s going in the right direction. It’s a good sign.”
- While Anaheim Ducks forward Patrick Eaves didn’t do anything significant in his first game back Thursday since missing all but two games last year due to illness and injury, but the veteran forward feels that he can make a difference for a struggling Ducks’ team. Even though expectations are low for Eaves, the 34-year-old veteran had a 32-goal season in 2016-17 and is capable of sparking the offense. “It’s hard to put any expectations on him other than, hopefully, he survives, gets through it and gets his feet underneath him,” Coach Randy Carlyle said. “It’s going to take him some time, so I’m going to withhold my assessment until maybe after the next game.”