SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks knew it would take some time to see the benefits of the deal two years ago to acquire James Sheppard from Minnesota.
After spending most of his first year in San Jose rehabbing from a serious leg injury, Sheppard completed his two-year journey back to the NHL in January and showed flashes of why the Wild drafted him in the first round in 2006.
The Sharks re-signed Sheppard to a one-year deal on Wednesday that prevents him from becoming a restricted free agent next month as they hope to build on that progress even more this upcoming season.
“When you see a guy go through adversity and a challenge like this it does reveal his character,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “But this is a kid who was a very highly drafted player and a very talented player. I think his best hockey is now ahead of him. ... Now I think you'll see him flourish. We're not even going to put a limit on where he can get to.”
The Sharks also signed Andrew Desjardins to a two-year contract. Both forwards could have been restricted free agents July 5 if they had not reached deals.
“I'm very happy to have both these guys signed,” Wilson said. “They play the way we're looking for our team to play.”
The Sharks originally acquired Sheppard in August 2011 from the Wild for a 2013 third-round draft pick. Sheppard had been suspended the previous season by Minnesota after suffering a career-threatening leg injury from an offseason ATV accident.
Sheppard played four minor league games his first season with the Sharks but got more time at Worcester during the lockout last season.
He made his debut with San Jose on Jan. 22 and had one goal and three assists in 32 regular season games. He had no points in 11 playoff games but showed the Sharks enough for them to want him back next season.
“It was such an intricate injury that I'm not going to be 100 percent maybe ever but I'm always getting closer and closer,” Sheppard said. “The more time passes the better I feel and the stronger I feel. ... I still expect to play better and I have more goals for myself that I want to accomplish.”