The Sharks recalled right wing Niko Dimitrakos Monday, Feb. 10 from the Cleveland Barons of the AHL. Dimitrakos had recently played for Team PlanetUSA in the AHL All-Star Game, and currently leads the Barons in scoring with 15 goals and 29 assists in 54 games; one of five Barons to have played in all 54 games. (Jeff Nelson, Chad Wiseman, Tavis Hansen, and David Cloutier are the others.) The graduate of the University of Maine should be able to make the trip to Detroit from Cleveland, but sjsharks.com, the official website of the San Jose Sharks, reports that it is unlikely that Dimitrakos will play. When Dimitrakos does play, still possibly tonight against the Red Wings on national television on ESPN2, the 5’11” 200-pound Massachusetts native will wear the number 23, vacated by the recently traded Shawn Heins.
What Happened to Zalesak?
The recall of the 23-year old Dimitrakos will come as a bit of a surprise to Shark fans, as it was reported that Miroslav Zalesak would be recalled. Indeed, the Slovakian winger’s scoring pace of late had picked up as the 6’0” 200-pound native of Skalica had 24 goals and 18 assists in 46 games. The 23-year old Zalesak (Jan. 1, 1980) is in the third year of his entry-level contract, and thus would have greatly benefited from getting a shot to prove his wares at the NHL level and possibly convince the Sharks to re-sign him, or prove himself to another NHL club. However, in typical Baron fashion this season, Zalesak injured his hip in Cleveland’s 1-0 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins, in which goalie Seamus Kotyk saved all 37 shots as Pat Rissmiller scored the Barons’ lone goal. Rissmiller was a free agent signed by the Sharks in training camp after playing four seasons of college hockey with Holy Cross of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. (Rissmiller is a project Shark of high intrigue, as he may become the first MAAC player to play in the NHL.)
Zalesak’s pain is Dimitrakos’ gain, but the Cleveland Barons lose big, as the team’s offensive threat is now virtually non-existent with only Ryan Kraft as a premier AHL scoring threat still healthy. (Nelson, Wiseman, Hansen, Rissmiller, and Cloutier will help out some.) It will be key for the Barons for Kotyk and Vesa Toskala to stand on their heads in net. (Not unlike Shark goalie-prospect Dimitri Pätzold for Germany in this year’s World Junior Championships.) Shark prospect Lynn Loyns is also in Cleveland, but his speed and tenacity does not translate to a major offensive output in the AHL, let alone the NHL. Loyns will be lucky if he ever matches the production of former Shark draft pick, and current Pittsburgh Penguin (catch them while they last) Shean Donovan.
The Sharks have lost the first two games of their seven-game road trip, and hope to turn things around against a struggling Detroit Red Wings club, as Sergei Fedorov complains to the media about ice-time. Fedorov is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and plenty of NHL teams looking for top-line centers will likely come calling for Fedorov. The Red Wings have offered Fedorov a $50-million contract, but the Russian speedster has declined the offer. A NHL team offering less money, but more ice-time, just might be able to gain Fedorov’s interest. (No hinting here…)
Author’s Note: Don’t foget to check out Soren Schwartz’ quick overview of Danish hockey in Hockey’s Future’s new Denmark section.