My Thoughts on Vladimir Zharkov not Being Recalled

Vladimir Zharkov could've been recalled Thursday. Instead, the Devils chose to recall Jacob Josefsson and Tim Sestito.

With Brian Rolston successfully undergoing sports Hernia surgery on Thursday, the Devils temporarily had some cap space available to recall a few players, and the Devils decided to recall Jacob Josefson, Tim Sestito and Matthew Corrente (who was recalled to replace the injured Mark Fraser). Some fans are excited to see Josefson, who's one of the Devils top prospects (Ranked 2nd amongst Devils prospects on Hockeysfuture.com), and so am I. Tim Sestito is capable of filling a bottom 6 role effectively, he did a good job of it in the preseason and in a few games last season for the Devils.

While I expect those two to fill whatever role they're asked to fill, some fans are wondering why the Devils would choose to recall two relatively inexperienced players (a combined 10 games of NHL experience, with all 10 games belonging to Sestito). While some names have been thrown around, one player not being recalled interests me: Vladimir Zharkov. He played 40 games last year for the Devils, and while he didn't score a goal in any of those 40 games, he was one of the most efficient forwards at getting pucks on net last season. While he didn't start the season with the Devils due to the team's cap problems, he could've been recalled Thursday instead of Sestito or Josefsson. Continue reading to hear some of my thoughts on Zharkov not being recalled.

One thing about  Zharkov last season was that he didn't have consistent linemates. Using Dobberhockey's line combination feature, Zharkov either played with an offensive line (8.03% of the time he lined up with Patrik Elias and Brian Rolston, 5.26% of the time he lied up with Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk) or a line that's not so great offensively (8.95% of the time he lined up with Rob Niedermayer and Jay Pandolfo, and 8.75% of the time he lined up with Ilkka Pikkarainen and Rod Pelley). Considering that the top six is basically set in stone (the ZIP line and the 2nd line of Elias-Arnott-Langenbrunner). Zharkov might benefit from MacLean not constantly shuffling the lines around, and might find some chemistry with whomever he ends up with, and maybe score a goal.

Considering that he hasn't scored alot of goals in his AHL career as well (17 goals in 92 games), it might be a good experience if he can work on a problem area of his in the AHL, which would be shooting the puck. I feel that it would be much easier to work on it in the AHL rather than trying to work it out in the NHL against better competition and goaltending. Considering the Devils have enough wingers on the roster at the moment, I think they can afford to let Zharkov spend some time in the AHL. If not for a post by Tom Gulitti earlier today, I would've missed out on this bit. From the post, he mentions that Maclean likes to have versatile forwards on hand, namely forwards who can play both center and wing. Sestito is capable of playing both center and wing, which might explain him being recalled. Zharkov can only play wing, which probably didn't help him out when Lou made the call ups. While Zharkov has NHL experience, I guess MacLean wanted to have a versatile group of forwards.

As for myself, I'm content with the call ups. Josefson will get a chance to show the fans and the rest of the league what he's made of. If Zharkov had been called up, I feel he'd fit in quite well on the 3rd line with Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson, who've been effective at keeping the puck in the opposition's zone and putting pressure on the opposition. His experience at the NHL level would help as well, just because he would probably be less of a worry than a fresh faced rookie playing his first NHL game. As for you, what do you think of Zharkov not being called up? Did he deserve to be called up or not? Please leave your thoughts in the comments, or via twitter (@Nonamericanhero).

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