Programming note: Flames-Sharks coverage starts Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – Matt Tennyson’s 2014 training camp didn’t last all that long.
One of a number of defensemen vying for a spot on the Sharks' NHL roster, the 24-year-old was reassigned to Worcester on Sep. 29 after skating in just two of the team’s seven preseason games. Meanwhile, blueliners Taylor Fedun and Taylor Doherty stuck around until just a couple days before the season opener.
On Sunday, though, the Sharks made the six-foot-two, 205-pound Tennyson their first recall on the blue line, after Jason Demers was traded to Dallas and Adam Burish was reassigned to their AHL affiliate.
Tennyson’s strengths are his skating ability and knack for creating offense.
His defending, though, needed some polish.
“When I got sent down that was the message from the coaching staff and the management,” Tennyson said. “Everything else is there, and that’s the part of the game that they wanted me to work on and focus on.”
Todd McLellan said: “We think that he skates well and shoots the puck very well, and the offensive instincts are there. He has worked really hard on the defensive part. So, he gets the call up.”
A peek at the NHL stats shows that Tennyson has three goals and three assists in 17 games for Worcester, playing mostly with Matt Taormina. He also has an even rating, which doesn’t exactly leap off the page, but is the club’s second best mark among rear guards.
It's also far better than Tennyson’s team-worst -25 rating in just 54 games in 2013-14.
“This year coming out of training camp I really wanted to improve defensively in the d-zone,” Tennyson said. “That’s something I’ve been working on in the first part of the year here, and I think I’ve been doing a good job at that.”
McLellan said: “I just spoke to [Worcester head coach] Roy Sommer, and he was telling me that this is the best he has seen Matt play in his years there. That’s a real positive, and that’s obviously why he’s here.”
Tennyson spent Monday’s practice paired with newcomer Brenden Dillon, who made his Sharks debut on Saturday against Arizona. The Sharks will carry eight defensemen for the time being, but probably wouldn’t have recalled Tennyson if they didn’t plan on using him. The club simply hasn't gotten enough good minutes from its third pair this season, which has generally been a rotation between Demers, Matt Irwin and Scott Hannan.
Now, the preference could be to have a righty like Tennyson paired with a lefty in Dillon.
Tennyson played four NHL games in the shortened 2013 season, posting two assists, but didn’t see any action in 2014-15 as the Sharks remained fairly healthy on the blue line. Indications are he won’t be watching from the press box on Wednesday against the Flames, as Hannan and Irwin, who skated together on Monday, will probably be the two guys out.
Any feelings of disappointment about being prematurely reassigned in training camp are gone.
“I kind of rolled with it and took what they said and tried to improve down in Worcester,” Tennyson said. “It’s seemed to pay off.”