Dainius Zubrus is coming off of the worst season of his career. In 2014-15, he scored four goals and 10 points in 74 games while playing with the veteran-laden, offensively stunted New Jersey Devils. It led to Zubrus’ eventual buyout by the Devils. But the 37-year-old isn’t ready to give up on his career.
First, he signed a professional tryout with the injury-riddled Blues, but it was Martin Havlat, who signed a tryout on the same day, who earned a contract in St. Louis ahead of Zubrus. He was released from his tryout Nov. 6, but less than two weeks later, Zubrus has found himself yet another opportunity, this one in San Jose.
CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reported Monday that Zubrus has signed a tryout agreement with the Sharks and is coming attempting to land himself a deal with the club. It’s the second tryout Zubrus has landed where he has a connection, though. In St. Louis, he had previously played with Blues assistant GM Martin Brodeur in New Jersey, and Sharks coach Peter DeBoer was previously Zubrus’ bench boss with the Devils.
According to the San Jose Mercury’s Curtis Pashelka, it was DeBoer who reached out to Zubrus to see if he had interest in skating with the Sharks.
“I never played out West, was never separated from my family like that, being in a different town,” Zubrus told Pashelka. “So I had to sit down and we kind of had to look at the schedule and see if we could make things work before I finally said yes, I think it would work for me. Then I called Doug (Wilson) back and said if you give me the opportunity, I would love to join and see how it goes.”
Already, DeBoer commented on Zubrus’ conditioning, telling Pashelka the veteran is in “phenomenal shape.” Regardless of his fitness level, though, the Sharks need someone who can be a depth contributor. Zubrus thinks he can still contribute, even if it’s just in a grinding role.
“I have a bigger body that can get in on the forecheck, and I feel like my legs can get me there,” Zubrus told Pashelka. “I don’t feel slower. I feel I can create some turnovers, protect pucks and battle along the boards.”
Getting more than that from Zubrus would be big for the Sharks, though. Combined, the bottom two lines have 29 points this season. The top-line duo of Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton has combined for 26 points. The second-line duo of Joel Ward and Patrick Marleau has combined for 24 points. That’s brutal scoring depth, and the kind of thing that won’t bode well in games where the top units aren’t clicking. Maybe that makes Zubrus, who had a 13-goal, 26-point season in 2013-14, a fit in the bottom-six.
“When you’re checking boxes, there are a lot of good boxes there,” DeBoer told Pashelka. “But there are a lot of other factors that go into it, too, and some of those are above the coaching level. So I’m happy he’s here, excited to work with him this week, and we’ll see where he fits.”