SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ most notable offseason addition will be a healthy scratch on Thursday, as struggling winger Mikkel Boedker won’t play against the Wild at SAP Center.
Boedker, who has two goals and six assists for eight points in 38 games, was benched for most of the third period of Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Kings.
Pete DeBoer, who has known Boedker since coaching him in juniors, was asked what the 27-year-old could learn from a night off.
“I know this kid and I know his character. My conversation with him was, heading into Christmas, he probably played eight or 10 of the best games he’s played here. Might have been our best player six or seven of those nights.
“He’s 40 games in, he knows our systems. He knows how we want to play. He’s been able to play that way and been effective for more than a game or two. He’s done it for a stretch. Now, it’s just consistently bringing that.
“This is a tough division we’re in. You can’t take your foot off the gas. We’ve got tough decisions to make every night, and we’ve got good players sitting out. I think that’s the message, and he gets it. I’m sure we’ll get a good response when he’s back in.”
Boedker was also benched in the third period of a game on Nov. 26 against the Ducks. He recorded an assist in each of the next two games, and has six assists in his last 16 games overall.
He hasn’t scored a goal in his last 28 games, however, despite playing on the second line right wing with Logan Couture for the eight of the last nine games.
When the Sharks signed Boedker to a four-year, $16 million contract in the offseason, DeBoer and general manager Doug Wilson both indicated that Boedker would benefit from playing with more skilled centermen than he did in his eight seasons in Arizona. In 21 of his 38 games, Boedker has started in the top six, either with Couture or Joe Thornton in the middle.
DeBoer has had no hesitation in scratching struggling forwards this season, in search of a consistent offensive attack. Joel Ward, Joonas Donskoi and Tommy Wingels have all taken turns in the press box, with Wingels sitting for the last five. Matt Nieto, waived and claimed by Colorado on Thursday morning, was pushed out of the lineup as rookies Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier have come up to claim spots.
Wingels will return against the Wild, centering the fourth line with Melker Karlsson and Micheal Haley.
Regarding the internal competition up front, Wingels said: “I think going into this season we knew that the situation we were going to be in. It just forces guys to work harder.”