SAN JOSE -- The Sharks wasted no time in adding Raffi Torres to their roster, one day after his historically long 41-game suspension came to an end.
Whether the controversial, oft-suspended 34-year-old can still play at the NHL speed with a wonky right knee, though, remains to be seen. The Sharks have assigned the 34-year-old forward to the AHL Barracuda, where he is permitted to spend two weeks.
The Sharks’ primary affiliate starts a three-game road trip on Wednesday in San Diego. Torres will not play in that game, but could be in the lineup on Jan. 15 at Rockford and/or Jan. 16 at Iowa.
Torres has had ongoing issues with his right knee ever since he collided with then-Ducks forward Emerson Etem in a preseason game on Sep., 20, 2013, missing all of last season and most of the 2013-14 campaign. Most recently, Torres had a subchondroplasty procedure on Dec. 11 at Stanford University that involved a scope to clean up scar tissue, and a “calcium deposit injection they put into the top part of the tibia,” he said. “There are no shock-absorbers in [the knee] so it’s supposed to help with the bone-on-bone feeling, get rid of that knife-stabbing sensation that I’d be having trying to get back.”
On Jan. 5, Torres spoke about the uncertainty of being able to continue his career.
“Personally, I expect to go out there and I want to be pain-free and play,” he said. “But, the reality is there are some hurdles. If I can get over them and get over the hump, I still feel like I can be effective in this league. But, if I don’t, then it’s obviously time to think about some other things.”
In a statement, Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said on Wednesday: "We're proud of how hard Raffi has worked over the last four months to continue to rehab from his injury. … We know Raffi can be a very effective player for our team and this assignment will allow him to get back into game shape."
Torres was suspended for half of the 2015-16 regular season for hitting the Ducks' Jakob Silfverberg with an illegal check to the head on Oct. 3 in a preseason game. He is a pending unrestricted free agent, making $2 million this season.
To make room for Torres, forward Dainius Zubrus was placed on injured reserve with what is believed to be a rib injury. There is no timeframe for Zubrus’ return.