Programming note: Oliers-Sharks coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California with Sharks Pregame Live
SAN JOSE -- Get ready to add another name to the long list of players that have skated on the Sharks’ third line this season.
Melker Karlsson, a 24-year-old Swede that has 10 points in 20 games with AHL Worcester, is set to make his NHL debut skating on the right wing of center James Sheppard and left wing Barclay Goodrow on Tuesday night vs. Edmonton.
Karlsson was recalled as Tyler Kennedy (shoulder) and Matt Nieto (ankle) are still unavailable, although the latter could play as soon as Thursday.
He arrived in San Jose late Monday night.
“It’s going to be really fun to play here,” Karlsson said after the morning skate. “I was so excited when I got the call and it’s finally [here] now.”
Karlsson was in training camp and played in two preseason games, going scoreless with six penalty minutes. He was reassigned on Sept. 29. He’s still in his first professional season in North America, after spending the previous two seasons in the Swedish Elite League, where he contributed 66 points (31g, 35a) in 216 games. The Sharks signed him as a free agent on May 30.
“Melker is a hard, committed player. We’re still finding out a lot about him,” Todd McLellan said. “He’s not going to score a whole bunch of goals, but he’ll play on the inside. He’ll keep his nose over the puck. He’ll give you everything he has. Character and commitment are two of the words we use when we talk about him.”
Karlsson said that improving in the defensive zone was important after he was sent to Worcester.
“It’s a little different, the game here. Bigger zones,” he said. “In the D-zone I was struggling a little bit in the beginning of the season. I think I worked that out pretty good.”
This will be the fifth straight game in which the Sharks have started a game with a different combination on the third line.
It’s unfortunate timing for the two injured players, as Kennedy played perhaps his best game as a Shark with two goals against the Bruins last Thursday before he was hurt early in the next game in Calgary, while Nieto had goals in two of his last three games but tweaked his ankle on a hit from Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller late in the 7-4 San Jose win.
“It affects us, it really does,” McLellan said. “Not only losing them as a team it hurts us, but them individually, they were starting to really play. Both of them can skate, they add a tremendous amount of speed to our lineup. Talked about the forecheck and tenacity that they bring, turning pucks over and getting on top of the other team’s D. It was evident we missed that from three lines [Sunday] night.”
McLellan was unsure if Kennedy would need surgery, but did say that the 28-year-old forward is “going to be awhile.”
[RELATED: Sharks' Kennedy out indefinitely]
Nieto, though, skated for a good hour on Tuesday morning and is close.
“I’m hoping to get into one of these games this week,” he said.
“It’s come a long way since when it first happened. Still not ready, but headed in the right direction.”
* * *
Speaking of the injured players, McLellan was asked about Raffi Torres, and said the forward will likely be out “well into the New Year, in my opinion.” Torres is attempting to come back from a blown out right knee in which his ACL was removed after multiple infections.
* * *
Antti Niemi will return to the net, facing the Oilers’ Ben Scrivens, who made 21 saves in the Oilers’ 2-1 win over the Sharks at Rexall Place on Sunday.