The seven-time all-star played his first 3½ seasons with the Sharks, but ended last season on injured reserve with the New York Rangers after managing just three points in 21 games.
If the 35-year-old Latvian rediscovers his famed offensive game, he could fill a hole on the Sharks blue-line after Scott Hannan’s departure as a free agent to Colorado. Only five veteran defencemen have solid roster spots, including youngsters Matt Carle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
“There’s plenty of openings, and there’s a lot of competition on defence,” coach Ron Wilson said. “Our history, as long as (general manager) Doug (Wilson) and I have been here, if you earn a spot on the roster, it’s there for you.”
Ozolinsh began his career in San Jose as a second-round draft pick, enjoying a 64-point campaign in 1993-94 – still a franchise record for defencemen. He was a key member of the San Jose clubs that engineered consecutive first-round playoff upsets.
He has 164 goals and 384 assists in his NHL career with San Jose, Colorado, Carolina, Florida and Anaheim. He joined the Rangers at the 2006 trade deadline, but struggled in New York.
Ozolinsh entered the NHL’s substance-abuse treatment program in December 2005. A few days after the 2006 season ended, he was arrested on a drunken driving charge that was later reduced to driving while impaired.