SAN JOSE – Daniil Tarasov has been patiently waiting to make his NHL debut after the Sharks recalled him on Jan. 29.
“I got excited in the first place, and it was nice to see all the guys,” he said. “It’s been good. Just been waiting for my chance, and working hard.”
That chance could come as soon as Wednesday, when the Sharks visit the Calgary Flames. At practice on Tuesday, Tarasov skated primarily on the right side of center James Sheppard and left wing Tomas Hertl. He took the place of Barclay Goodrow, who skated just one shift in the third period of the 5-4 shootout loss to Edmonton on Monday.
Known as a speedy, feisty, offensively gifted forward, Tarasov was leading Worcester in scoring at the time of his recall with 25 points (10g, 15a) in 41 games. His skill set could be more conducive than Goodrow’s against a quick Flames team that is fighting to catch San Jose in the Pacific Division standings.
Todd McLellan wouldn’t confirm if Tarasov would play. He said: “We hope to get him in, but we’ll evaluate some of the guys that are hurt and we’ll make some decisions in the morning when we get to Calgary.”
The Sharks did not have a long practice on Tuesday, on their lone day off during a three-games-in-four-nights stretch. McLellan has previously said that Tarasov’s game would be better suited on a scoring line rather than in a fourth line role.
When he was reassigned to Worcester in training camp, the message to Tarasov from the Sharks’ coaching staff was to become better in the defensive end.
“We’re going based on what we know from his time in Worcester where he’s been a very good two-way player, which is an improvement,” McLellan said. “He’s usually been known as an offensive guy, but he’s improved his two-way game. When he gets his chance at the NHL level, we’ll be looking for that.”
Tarasov said: “I think I’m playing well, and trying to play in both ends. I have confidence in myself. I’m trying to make plays and put some pucks on net. I feel pretty good so far.”
He’s familiar with his potential linemates, as Hertl and Sheppard both played brief stretches with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate this season.
“With Tomas, we played a few games in Worcester not too long ago. Had some power play time with him,” Tarasov said. “James has been down in the beginning of the season, and I feel good about those two guys and hope I can contribute.”
Sheppard said: “He’s really crafty and skilled. He can turn on a dime and skate fast, and he’s a smart player.”
Should he dress for the Sharks, Tarasov would be the first – and likely last – former San Francisco Bulls player to appear with the NHL club. The ECHL team folded in the middle of last season.
Tarasov spent time with the Bulls during the 2012-13 season, when former Sharks forward Ryane Clowe helped serve as an assistant coach.
The 23-year-old has had his work cut out for him to get to the NHL level.
“I was a young guy and they sent me down,” he said. “I never stopped working to just get better at my game, personally. I knew I would get a chance soon if I worked hard.”
What would it mean for the Moscow native to make his NHL debut?
“It would mean the world to me. It’s been a long journey since I came here five years ago. It would be a dream to play in the NHL, and I hope it comes true soon.”