SAN JOSE – The day before the Sharks acquired forward Jannik Hansen from Vancouver, head coach Pete DeBoer was asked what ingredients he was looking for in a player to skate alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
“You have to play [at Pavelski and Thornton’s] level and [match] their work ethic,” DeBoer said on Feb. 27. “They need somebody that’s going to work at their level and hunt the puck, so that’s got to be part of it.”
Hansen was viewed as that kind of player, and “that was part of the reason he was where he was on our list” of trade targets, DeBoer said on Wednesday.
It was, therefore, no surprise that Hansen was in a white practice jersey with the two longtime Sharks stars for his first skate in San Jose, and will be the eighth winger this season to start a game on that line when the Sharks host the Capitals on Thursday.
Although he had discussions with DeBoer prior to finally arriving in San Jose on Tuesday night after sorting out immigration, he didn’t find out he’d be getting a look right away on the top line until Wednesday morning when he got to the practice facility around 8:00 a.m.
“I want to come in here and help this team any way I can,” Hansen said. “Whatever that is, that’s obviously up to the coaches. This is a very good team that [is] in a position to do something. … Any way I can help them out, that’s fine with me.”
DeBoer pointed out that the 30-year-old Hansen spent lots of time over the years on a line in Vancouver with Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
“That doesn’t guarantee that this is going to work, but it definitely gives it a better chance,” said the coach.
If it doesn’t, Hansen has shown to be a versatile guy.
“You think of every time we played Vancouver, it seemed like every time we played them he was on a different line,” Logan Couture said. “He was with the Sedins, then the second line, then the third line – you noticed him every time you played against him. You knew that he was playing. He’s that type of guy that’s hard on other guys’ skilled players.”
Hansen has missed the first three Sharks games after the trade, which happened late on Feb. 28. A Denmark native who had spent his entire career with the Canucks before the deal, which included a conditional fourth round pick and prospect Nikolay Goldobin going to Vancouver, he had to wait until Monday to get an appointment at the U.S. consulate in British Columbia.
More than a week later, he considered Wednesday’s practice “day one” of being a Shark.
“It wasn’t until last night it really sunk in – you’re leaving Vancouver now,” he said, after playing there since the 2007-08 season. “But, obviously I [had] a great deal of time to kind of prepare myself for it and wrap my head around it’s a new team, new challenge, new friendships you’ve got to make.
"It’s very exciting to come to a team like that, that’s gearing up for the playoffs.”
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Rounding out the expected lines for Thursday’s game were Couture between Patrick Marleau and Mikkel Boedker; Tomas Hertl centering Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi, and a fourth line of Chris Tierney centering Joel Ward and Marcus Sorensen. Micheal Haley was the odd man out.
Rookie Kevin Labanc has been reassigned to the AHL Barracuda.
David Schlemko (lower body), who has missed the last two games, did not practice and is considered day-to-day.