ANAHEIM — The Sharks’ road preseason game Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks will be the second straight for defenseman Tim Heed, still fighting for a full-time NHL job after being a part-time player last season.
Heed, 27, doesn’t want to spend large portions of another year watching games from the press box.
Heed played 29 NHL games for the Sharks last season, finishing with three goals and 11 points. He was a healthy scratch for 39 games, and spent another 10 in the AHL with the Barracuda. He was also in the minors in April when the Barracuda played in the Calder Cup playoffs.
“Last year didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to,” Heed said earlier this week. “So, I’m excited to start a new one and see where it takes me.”
Even before the Sharks traded for Erik Karlsson, it figured to be a challenge for Heed to get regular playing time this year. The final year of Paul Martin’s contract was bought out this summer, but still, the three defense pairs the Sharks finished the playoffs with last season were coming back.
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Heed, in the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the Sharks in June 2017, would require waivers if he did not make the Sharks’ opening night roster and the organization wanted to send him back to the Barracuda of the AHL.
“Obviously we have a great d-corps here, with Erik coming in, too, didn’t make it easier,” Heed said. “But I’m up for competition and to do whatever I can to make the team, and try to make the lineup and then we’ll see how long it takes.”
During the offseason, the Sharks wanted Heed to add some strength so he could become a bit more physical in his own end. A point of emphasis, though, was improving the accuracy of his blistering slap shot.
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Heed attempted 127 shots with the Sharks last season, but just 51 were on net.
In the Sharks’ preseason opener Tuesday, a 4-1 win over Anaheim, Heed attempted six shots, but five went wide and another was blocked.
“That’s something that he’s got to continue to work at,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. “For me, if he’s going to be an offensive defenseman, you have to find a way to get that shot on the net.
“But I thought he competed, I thought defensively he was good. He was moving his feet. He created some things. I thought he played really well.”
DeBoer has another option on the blue line in Radim Simek, who, in first season of playing in North America after coming from the Czech Republic, had 27 points for the Barracuda in 67 games.
Defenseman Tim Heed (72) seen here in a game against Vancouver last season, is in a tough competition to make the Sharks roster out of training camp this year. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
Simek, like Heed, would have to clear waivers if the Sharks wanted to send him back down to the Barracuda, although it is possible the Sharks keep eight defensemen to start the regular season.
“They both bring different things to the table,” DeBoer said. “I wouldn’t say they’re competing for the same job. It just depends what you’re looking for in the lineup. Maybe its nightly.
“If we’re looking for power play help, a puck mover and a big shot. it’s (Heed). Simek’s more of a in-your-face, aggressive, I wouldn’t say a shutdown D, but he’s got real good wheels, but he brings different elements from Tim.”
The Sharks cut 14 players from training camp Thursday, assigning 12 players to the Barracuda and four back to their junior teams, including forward Ivan Chekhovich.
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Chekhovich played Tuesday and had two goals and an assist in the Sharks’ win. But with Chekhovich, a seventh round draft pick by San Jose in 2017, just being 19, he was going to be a longshot to make the Sharks’ opening night roster with several other more experienced wingers in camp.
Because of his age and the NHL’s agreement with the Canadian Hockey League, the Sharks had to keep Chekhovich on their roster or send him back junior. Players need to be at least 20 years old to compete in the AHL. Chekhovich will return to Baie-Comeau of the QMJHL.
“He made a great showing, caught everybody’s eye,” DeBoer said. “He’s got a future down the road as an NHL player. But he wasn’t going to help us this September and the right thing to do was to go to junior, play in a world junior and try to win a Memorial Cup”