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Polak, Spaling to make Sharks debut

Set to face former teammate Matthias, Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

SHARKS (32-21-5) at AVALANCHE (31-27-4) 

TV: 10 p.m. ET: NBCSN, SN 

DENVER -- When forward Shawn Matthias makes his Colorado Avalanche debut Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks at Pepsi Center, he'll be facing two players -- defenseman Roman Polak and forward Nick Spaling -- who were teammates of his four days ago.

The Avalanche acquired Matthias from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday for minor-league center Colin Smith and a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The Sharks acquired Polak and Spaling from the Maple Leafs on Monday for forward Raffi Torres and second-round selections in 2017 and 2018.

Immigration issues prevented the players from joining their new teams until Wednesday when they took part in their respective morning skates. Polak and Spaling arrived around 2 a.m. ET, Matthias an hour later.

"It's kind of funny, we were actually on different planes," Matthias said. "We were joking around that we could be seat partners one last time."

Matthias, 28, who is 6-foot-4 and 231 pounds, will play left wing for the Avalanche on a line with center Carl Soderberg and right wing Blake Comeau. Matthias had six goals and 11 assists in 51 games with Toronto after signing as a free agent last summer. He had 18 goals and nine assists in 78 games with the Vancouver Canucks in 2014-15.

"It's going to be fun, I'm excited for this opportunity," Matthias said. "I just want to play my game, compete every night, bring some energy and try and help the team get into the playoffs. I just want to contribute, be a hard-working guy, complement my linemates.

"It's a good challenge here, the team is trying to get into the playoffs. It's going to be a good, exciting couple of months here. Anyone who's been traded knows it can be a little tough the first game. I'll try and keep things simple, work hard and try to give my best every night."

Matthias said he didn't expect to be traded, but his parents will be even more surprised. He said they're on vacation in Jamaica and won't return home until this weekend.

"They don't even know I've been traded yet," he said. "It should be pretty funny when they get back."

Polak, 29, is 6-0, 237 pounds and will be paired with 6-4, 225-pound Brenden Dillon.

"It's going to take a while to get connected," Polak said of his new partner. "We need to talk a lot and keep it simple."

Polak and Spaling are excited about the prospect of trying to help the Sharks in their bid to finish first in the Pacific Division.

"It's always good to play for something," said Polak, who has one goal and 12 assists in 55 games. "The [trade], it is what it is, part of the business and you have to deal with it."
  
The 6-1, 198-pound Spaling, 27, will play left wing on a line with center Chris Tierney and right wing Dainius Zubrus. Spaling has one goal and six assists in 35 games. He missed 16 games because of an upper-body injury.

"[The Sharks] are playing really well right now and I'm excited to help them out as much as I can," said Spaling, who played on a line with Matthias on Saturday in Toronto's 5-4 overtime loss against the Philadelphia Flyers. "We were together last game and I know him really well. It's always fun to play against old teammates."

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer will ease Polak and Spaling into the lineup.

"Any time you get new players in, you don't want to throw too much at them," DeBoer. "Both have been well coached in Toronto and I don't think there's huge differences in style of play. It'll just be some subtleties. More important, get in and get to know the guys, feel comfortable in the room. That's what we're looking for tonight." 
  
Here are the projected lineups:

SHARKS

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Matt Nieto - Patrick Marleau - Joel Ward

Joonas Donskoi - Logan Couture - Melker Karlsson

Nick Spaling - Chris Tierney - Dainius Zubrus

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

Martin Jones

Alex Stalock

Injured: Tommy Wingels (upper body)

Scratched: Barclay Goodrow, Dylan DeMelo, Matt Tennyson

AVALANCHE

Mikhail Grigorenko - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Alex Tanguay - Nathan MacKinnon - Gabriel Landeskog

Shawn Matthias - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Jack Skille
Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Chris Bigras - Andrew Bodnarchuk

Calvin Pickard

Semyon Varlamov  

Injured: Ben Street (chest), Brad Stuart (back surgery), Jesse Winchester (head) 
Scratched: Zach Redmond, Chris Wagner  

Status report: Dillon will return to the Sharks lineup after missing six games because of an upper-body injury ... MacKinnon will play after missing practice Tuesday because of illness.

Who's hot: Hertl has three goals in a two-game scoring streak ... Burns has one goal and one assist in a two-game streak ... Iginla has two goals and three assists in a four-game streak ... Duchene has one goal and three assists in a three-game streak.

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