-- He's only missed four games, but Martin Havlat
has been eagerly anticipating his Sharks debut. It'll finally happen Friday night at Prudential Center against the Devils.
"Marty will play," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after Thursday's practice here. "That's what I've been told and the doctors cleared him. If anything changes between now and then it will be a surprise to everyone."
Havlat had surgery on his left shoulder in May to repair a torn labrum, an injury he suffered while playing for the Czech Republic in the IIHF World Championship. The Sharks knew he was still recovering when they acquired him via trade from Minnesota on July 3, but have waited patiently for the speedy right wing to get himself back to 100 percent.
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Havlat visited his surgeon in Cleveland on Wednesday and was given the green light.
"I just want to help the team to win," Havlat said. "It's going to take some time. It's my first game with a new team, new linemates and a new system, but hopefully it'll go quick."
Havlat will start Friday's game on the right side of Logan Couture
and Ryane Clowe
. He has worked with them in practices since the start of training camp, and McLellan said he can see chemistry developing.
"There is some non-game chemistry there, but they will have to find their rhythm with each other," McLellan said. "I think instincts are so important on lines, and they'll have to read off each other instinctively. That might take a little while."
It shouldn't take long for Havlat to make the Sharks' top-six more dangerous, which is good because San Jose's offense needs a jolt of something. The Sharks have generated chances and piled up shots on goal through four games (40.5 per game), but they've scored only 10 goals, just five at even strength.
Havlat, who has 512 points in 621 career games, provides the element of speed that fellow top-six forwards Joe Thornton
, Patrick Marleau
, Joe Pavelski
, Couture and Clowe don't have. McLellan said recently the Sharks have to play a faster game, adding Havlat should make that happen.
"He's a lefty playing his off wing just like Dany (Heatley) was last year, but he does have speed to get in the forecheck, support the pile, get to loose pucks," Couture told NHL.com. "That's something we need. Just from practicing with him, he finds soft spots in the other team's end and hopefully we can score a couple of goals, because our team needs it right now."
Havlat's shoulders have been through the proverbial ringer. He's had multiple operations on his right shoulder and now one on his left during his 11-year career.
"It's a different shoulder, but with the surgery it's pretty much the same," Havlat said of the operation he had in May. "I knew what was going on and I knew what was coming. I was ready for this one."
Five months later, Havlat is ready for a fresh start with his new team.
"We need to finish a few more (chances), and if you give a guy with his caliber a chance in the slot, your odds go up," Pavelski told NHL.com. "That's what you want. That's why you make a trade for a player like that. It'll definitely be a boost."Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Senior Writer