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San Jose Sharks sign Fredrik Claesson as possible insurance on defense

San Jose Sharks sign Fredrik Claesson as possible insurance on defense

With Radim Simek’s availability for the start of the regular season in question, the San Jose Sharks on Sunday added a possible insurance policy, signing veteran free agent defenseman Fredrik Claesson to a one-year, two-way contract.

According to CapFriendly, which first reported the signing, Claesson’s salary will be $700,000 at the NHL level and $200,000 if he plays in the AHL.

Claesson, 28, has played 155 NHL games over the last five seasons, including 113 games with the Ottawa Senators from 2015 to 2018 when he was teammates with Erik Karlsson. Claesson played five games with New Jersey at the end of last season after he was acquired by the Devils from the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Swedish-born Claesson played most of last season with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. It remains unclear when Claesson will be able to join the Sharks, who be in the Phoenix area for at least the next six days. The Sharks play the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday and Saturday.

“He’s working on some immigration but hopefully he can join us as soon as possible,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said Sunday night. “A guy that’s played some games, has some experience, is a little older and can add to that depth on defense.”

Simek said last Monday that he was still experiencing pain in his surgically-repaired right knee at training camp, and that he had also had pain last May or June after he started to skate again in his native Czech Republic.

“I was fighting during the summer with the knee again. I don’t know why and what happened, but I’m still working on my knee,” Simek said. “Hopefully, I’m going to be ready for the start of the season.”

After four days off the ice from Tuesday to Friday, Simek skated on both Saturday and on Sunday morning, but did not participate in the scrimmage.

“We’re slowly getting him back into the swing of things, but he responded well (Saturday) after our skate,” Boughner said Sunday morning. “I think that every day he’s going to improve and hopefully he’s in the lineup on Thursday night.”

Claesson, listed at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, has played 14 NHL playoff games, all with the Senators during their run to the Eastern Conference final in 2017. He assisted on Mike Hoffman’s winning goal in Game 6 of the conference finals against Pittsburgh, forcing a Game 7, which the Penguins won in double overtime to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Throughout his NHL career, Claesson has averaged 15 minutes and 43 seconds of ice time per game.

FINAL TUNE UP: Team Teal beat Team White 7-2 in the Sharks’ final training camp skate. After the game, Boughner and the Sharks’ braintrust met to start the process of finalizing their roster for the beginning of the season.

“I thought (Friday’s) scrimmage was better,” Boughner said. “I thought tonight was a little sloppy and it has a little bit to do with the veterans sort of having their focus on playing for the real deal here on Thursday. So, it’s just a choppy scrimmage and I guess it’s been a long camp. As much as it’s only been 11 days on the ice, it’s getting to the end of camp and we’re getting anxious for the regular season.”

Boughner did not declare who his starting goalie will be Thursday, but all indications are that it will be Martin Jones.

“We challenged Jonesy to be to come in top shape, to have a good camp and find his game and work on his game this summer, and he’s done that,” Boughner said. “I’m not going to pick a number one guy, but I think he’s put himself in a real good position to be the starter.”

LEONARD’S CLOSING ARGUMENT: Barring something unforeseen, John Leonard will be in the Sharks’ lineup Thursday night, making his NHL debut.

Leonard, 22, seemed to impress from the first day of on-ice activities and used that momentum to earn a spot inside the Sharks’ top six forward group, skating on a line with Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane.

Boughner thought Leonard had a better scrimmage Friday than Sunday, but “he has high end skill and he has speed, and I like him in that position on that top line.

“We’re going to start the season with a set of lines that we think are going to be the best combinations. I’m sure there’s going to be some tinkering as we get through this compacted schedule, but Johnny’s done a good job and had a good camp and he deserves to be with the big club.”

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