SAN JOSE — Flames winger Niklas Hagman has returned to Calgary because of “concussion-like symptoms” suffered in the first period of Monday’s 2-1 shootout loss in Los Angeles.
In turn, 2008 first-round draft choice Greg Nemisz was summoned from the minors and is pegged to make his NHL debut when the Flames face the San Jose Sharks Wednesday night.
“A young player’s going to get an opportunity to play, so as negative as one side of it is, the positive is somebody gets that chance,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “It’s too bad for Hags. I thought, in the last few games, he’d been playing really well.”
Hagman left Monday’s game after being hit into the end-boards by Kings blueliner Matt Greene late in the first period and did not return.
The Flames will have three rookie forwards in the lineup against the Sharks, including Mikael Backlund, Lance Bouma and Nemisz, the former Windsor Spitfire who was drafted 25th overall.
“He’s getting thrown to the wolves,” Sutter said. “But it’s a great situation for a young guy. You’re coming into the heat of the battle. It’s a level of play like playoff hockey, and he gets to experience that.
“You know these young guys are going to give you enthusiasm and life and energy. It’s not like he hasn’t played in big games before. He comes from a junior program where they’ve won Memorial Cups and he’s been part of it, and been a big part of it. He’s played in big games and has big games to play now.
“It’ll be a good thing for him.”
Nemisz had 14 goals and 32 points in 65 games with the AHL Abbotsford Heat before being recalled.
Sharks rookie sensation Logan Couture appeared headed for the injured list after a nasty looking spill into the end-boards in Saturday’s game against St. Louis.
The forward, who has 27 goals and 48 points, is possible for Wednesday’s tilt.
“If he’s capable of going without any threat of further injury, we’ll put him in the lineup. He’s a very important piece and we sure could use him at this time,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan.
Couture practised fully Tuesday.
“Obviously, it’s still a little sore, but I feel fine,” he said.
“I don’t make the lineups. We’ll talk to who we need to talk to and go from there.”
The Sharks will have Dany Heatley back in action, having served his two-game suspension for an elbow on Steve Ott of the Dallas Stars.
“He should be refreshed. I think he’ll be a little healthier than he was, simply because he’s had a week off,” McLellan said. “It might take him a shift or two to get back in the swing of things.”
That said, McLellan wasn’t about to defend the sniper’s action.
“We expect him to make a better decision the next time he’s put in that situation,” McLellan said. “I think the league sent a very loud, clear message to the players that it’s not going to be tolerated, and nobody in our organization is immune to that message.
“We should all open our eyes and take notice.”