The Sharks will indeed welcome back not just one but two centers tonight when they take on Anaheim. The team announced (Twitter link) that they have activated Logan Couture and Nico Sturm off injured reserve as expected. To make room on the active roster, center Mikael Granlund and defenseman Ty Emberson have been transferred to IR, moves that were suggested as likely on Friday.
Couture has missed the entire season with what previously had been an undisclosed injury. Today, he told reporters including Max Miller of The Hockey News that he had been dealing with osteitis pubis. He twice tried to come back from this already but suffered setbacks each time, resulting in cortisone shots, extended rest, and a different training regimen as the team tried to figure out how to best treat the injury.
The 34-year-old is coming off of one of his best seasons offensively as he recorded 67 points while playing in all 82 games for only the second time of his career. A 14-year veteran, some have wondered if Couture could be a trade candidate at some point with San Jose clearly in a full-scale rebuild. He’ll need to demonstrate not only that he is fully healthy but that he is also still capable of producing at a top level as Couture has three years left on his contract after this one with a $8MM cap charge. The Sharks, meanwhile, only have one salary retention slot remaining through the end of next season.
Nevertheless, his return will be a welcome one for a team whose offense has struggled mightily this season, recording just 89 goals in 45 games, putting the Sharks dead last in the league in that department. Couture is expected to play alongside Alexander Barabanov and Fabian Zetterlund in his debut.
As for Sturm, the 28-year-old has been out for more than a month after re-aggravating a wrist injury. He has played in 26 games so far and while he only has two goals and two assists, he’s among the NHL’s leaders in faceoff percentage, checking in at just over 62%. With faceoffs and penalty killing being elements that teams often try to upgrade before the trade deadline, it’s possible that Sturm, who has one year left after this one at $2MM, could be someone that teams inquire about in the coming weeks.