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Why Did Sharks Use Last Regular Recall on Studnicka?



Why Jack Studnicka?

On Monday, the San Jose Sharks used their last regular recall – you get four after the Trade Deadline – to bring center Studnicka up from the AHL.

This was something of a surprise, considering winger Danil Gushchin and defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin were both enjoying All-Star caliber seasons with the San Jose Barracuda.

“We talked about a bunch of scenarios. Like I’ve mentioned before, a lot of decisions are 51-49 percent,” head coach David Quinn said. “This is the decision that we made as an organization and there’s a lot of factors that went into it.”

That might sound like lip service, but speaking with a number of sources, both inside and outside of the San Jose Sharks, it’s not.

San Jose Hockey Now has learned from a source that Mukhamadullin is being evaluated for an injury after leaving Sunday’s tilt against the Wranglers in the middle of the second period.

No word yet on the nature or extent of Mukhamadullin’s injury, but that could explain passing him over for a recall.

Also, because the San Jose Sharks’ roster isn’t as full up on defensemen right now, they’ve got seven healthy, the path to an emergency recall for Mukhamadullin, if he heals up, isn’t as complicated.

Even after a team has exhausted its regular recalls after the Trade Deadline, it’s usually not too hard for them to sit a veteran or two out with some type of minor injury to make an emergency recall available.

Considering Mukhamadullin’s uncertain health status, Gushchin is perhaps the deeper debate.

But one thing, the San Jose Sharks really need a viable NHL center on the roster, after trading Tomas Hertl and losing Logan Couture to injury. Since the All-Star break, they’ve survived by forcing wingers William Eklund or Luke Kunin to the middle, but it’s not ideal, and you can argue for a 21-year-old like Eklund, not advantageous to his development.

Of the most likely prospects that the Sharks would recall from the Barracuda – Gushchin or Ethan Cardwell are wingers, and Mukhamadullin or Jack Thompson are blueliners – Studnicka is the only pivot.

The other part of Studnicka over Gushchin is more subtle.

Gushchin was out recently, for about a month, with an upper-body injury, returning on Mar. 2. He came back slow, with just one assist in five games, though he’s heated up recently, with two goals and five assists in his last six contests.

But, and this was confirmed by a source outside of the San Jose Sharks organization, thought is, even with Gushchin’s recent production, that he’s not back to his best game yet. That’s not a criticism of his play, but more, an understanding that after such a long layoff, that his sharpness and timing are still works in progress.

Gushchin may not need his best game to flourish in the AHL, but he’ll definitely need some approximation of it for the NHL.

Same thing with Gushchin too, like Mukhamadullin, an emergency recall is still very possible.

As for Studnicka himself, besides checking off a need on the roster, he could be a good barometer of where the San Jose Sharks are, in terms of player development.

That’s not a reason to call him up, but something I’m really interested in watching.

The Sharks, I think unfairly, have been criticized in recent years for their inability to develop viable NHL players.

Studnicka might prove otherwise.

Anyway, that’s my next article, later tonight!

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