BERLIN – “I don’t think so.”
That was David Quinn’s answer when asked if Alexander Barabanov or Markus Nutivaara could join the San Jose Sharks in Prague.
That’s two line-up regulars already out for the season-opener, and I hadn’t had my first beer in Germany yet. In fact, for the Sharks, that’s a first-line winger and Erik Karlsson’s prospective top-pairing partner.
It’s not just about Barabanov (lower-body) and Nutivaara (lower-body), but the domino effect on the line-up. These were Quinn’s lines today:
#SJSharks practice lines today:
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 3, 2022
Suddenly, prospective third-liner Luke Kunin is with Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, fourth-liner Matt Nieto is playing up, and PTO tryout Scott Harrington is paired with Karlsson.
We’ll see if this is what Quinn trots out tomorrow in their exhibition finale against Eisbären Berlin at Mercedes-Benz Arena. Quinn noted that James Reimer would get the start, but Kaapo Kahkonen would come in halfway. The bench boss also hopes, barring any injury issues, that the line-up that he ices tomorrow will be the one that he opens the regular season with against the Nashville Predators on Friday.
One of those potential injury question marks is Augsburg native Nico Sturm, who’s the only German player on either San Jose or Nashville. Sturm appeared to practice without physical limitations today, but he was alternating shifts with Thomas Bordeleau up the middle.
In the San Jose Sharks’ last exhibition game in Vegas on Friday, Sturm took a jarring reverse hit from Paul Cotter in the first period. Sturm skated just one shift after that.
Sturm shared today that the league’s concussion spotter pulled him out for precautionary reasons, and he just stayed out. However, Sturm admitted that he won’t know if he’s playing tomorrow until tomorrow morning, suggesting that he’s dealing with something that isn’t a concussion.
Anyway, for Barabanov and Nutivaara, all this might be déjà vu.
Barabanov missed part of training camp last year with a lower-body injury, which probably played a part in his slow start last season. The skilled winger was scratched, healthy or otherwise, in five of the first seven games last year.
Nutivaara hasn’t played an NHL contest since Oct. 29, 2021, his only game action in 2021-22. Since then, he’s had hip surgery, and he’s currently dealing with an injury related to that ailment.
The good news? Hopefully, Barabanov and Nutivaara aren’t far from returning.
The Russian winger took the ice last Thursday before the San Jose Sharks’ regular practice, and a source has indicated to SJHN that there’s hope — for now — that Nutivaara will be ready when the team is back from Europe.
UPDATE: Barabanov left the ice before the guys started drills.
Still nice to see him out there. https://t.co/cuYefiqFsb
— Lizz Child (@LizzChild) September 29, 2022
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