Sharks defenseman Radim Simek took another step towards making his season debut Monday, as San Jose announced he will join the AHL Barracuda on a conditioning assignment.
The 27-year-old has not played since tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee on March 12 against the Winnipeg Jets. The Czech defenseman underwent surgery three days later, returning to practice with the Sharks towards the end of the preseason.
Simek was traveling with the Sharks on their five-game road trip, but he now could conceivably suit up for the Barracuda Wednesday morning against the Bakersfield Condors. He could play a lot in the coming days, as the Barracuda hit the road to play the Stockton Heat on Friday and return home to host the Tucson Roadrunners at SAP Center on Sunday afternoon.
The Sharks went 29-9-3 in the games in which Simek played last season and they were better defensively with him on the ice. San Jose has gone just 17-25-2 in its last 44 regular-season and playoff games in Simek's absence, and the Sharks allowed more 5-on-5 goals (34) than any other team entering Monday.
Simek alone won't solve the Sharks' problems, as San Jose also ranks dead-last in 5-on-5 save percentage (.880) and 24th in 5-on-5 goals for (19). The blueliner scored just nine points in 41 games last season and hasn't scored more than a half-point per game at the professional level.
But after winning four of their first 12 games, the Sharks could use all the help they can get.