SAN JOSE – The Sharks are going to be without Nikolai Knyazov for the foreseeable future because the rescuer’s lower body injury, which has kept him off the ice since the start of training camp, has not responded well to rehabilitation.
Knyzhov had been skating on his own last weekend, but Sharks coach Bob Boffner said the defenseman’s progress had stalled and he was heading out on Wednesday to meet with a specialist.
The Sharks recently had week-to-week considerations and were hoping he could join the team on their upcoming five-game road trip to continue rehab. But Boffner said on Sunday that there is also the possibility that Knyazov will not be healthy enough to travel.
Knyzhov, 23, was the Sharks’ top rookie from last season as he played in all 56 games, had 10 points, averaged 16:26 of ice time per game, and became Erik Carlsen’s defense partner.
It is not immediately clear who will play Carlson on Saturday when the Sharks host the Winnipeg Jets in their regular season opener.
Rookie Sentry Hatakka played with Carlson in the Sharks’ final preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday. He had a 16:50 ice time and was credited with three hits and two blocked shots in a 4-0 Sharks win.
However, Boffner indicated that Jake Middleton and Radim Simek would round out the defense corps for Saturday’s game, joining Carlsen, Brent Burns, Mario Ferraro and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Burns would be paired with Ferraro, but the other two pairings were not known, although Vlasic and Simek played several games against each other last season.
The Sharks begin their five-game, eight-day road trip Tuesday in Montreal, followed by games in Ottawa, Toronto, Boston and Nashville.
“The mids have done enough through camp to begin with. Simar has built up some equity with us, so if Hataka doesn’t start on Saturday, I think you’ll definitely see him in the lineup on the road trip,” Boffner said. “And I think it’s going to be more opponent-based. What kind of team do we need to compete every night.”
NO VIEL, either: Forward Jeffrey Weil will also be out for a long time as he undergoes finger surgery. Boffner said that Weil, who injured his finger in a fight against Anaheim’s Sam Carrick on October 4, will miss about four weeks.
Barbanov Update: Forward Alexander Barbanov, who suffered a lower body injury and was ruled out of Saturday’s preseason game, skated in the fourth row of the Sharks with Jasper Weatherby, Andrew Cogliano and Len Pedersen on Wednesday.
“He seemed fine today,” Boffner said. “Today was obviously a tough exercise with a few days off, so he went through the entire practice. I want to see how he reacts throughout the night and see how he feels in the morning, but he looks better. I looked at him closely and it seemed that his gait had returned to normal. ”
Gadjovich Update: Boffner said Jonah Gadjovich is still awaiting clearance from immigration to come to the United States after he was removed from the Vancouver Canucks exemption last week. The Sharks are hoping Gadjovich can come before Saturday so that he can take part in at least one exercise, but it was unclear as of Wednesday afternoon.