According to several reports, it is believed that the San Jose Sharks will soon announce the signing of Skellefteå AIK defenseman Tim Heed to a two-way contract.
Thanks to a tip from Pucknology reader Joakim Nihlén, Swedish newspaper Norran has reported throughout the week that “evidence suggests that the San Jose Sharks will be [Heed’s] next employer,” and that the Sharks have been pursuing the right-handed defenseman “for a long time.”
Heed has been among the leaders in the Swedish Hockey League in scoring by defensemen over the past two seasons. His 23 points (8g, 15a) in 52 games were good for 11th among defensemen in the regular season, while he added nine points (3g, 6a) in 16 playoff games as Skellefteå reached the SHL Championship Finals for a whopping sixth consecutive season (made even more remarkable by the fact that the club was promoted to the SHL only ten years ago). Heed also was a key catalyst in the Champions Hockey League this season, potting four goals and three assists in eight games before Skellefteå was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Last season, the native of Gothenburg won the Salming Trophy as the best defenseman in the SHL, leading all defensemen in scoring with 37 points (10g, 27a) in 50 games, plus another 11 points (2g, 9a) in 15 playoff games.
Should the contract become official with the Sharks, Heed would likely be met with some familiar faces next season. Sharks forward Melker Karlsson and Barracuda right wing Petter Emanuelsson were teammates with Heed when Skellefteå won the Le Mat Trophy as SHL champions in 2014. (Editor’s Note: After this article was written, Petter Emanuelsson left the Sharks on May 18.)
At six-feet, 185 pounds, Heed has good top speed and agility, and though his first step could be better, it is not bad. As his numbers would suggest, Heed’s excellent hands allow him to move the puck very well and he makes quality decisions with the puck in both ends. He also has a nice, accurate slap shot. His downside has always been that he is only average in the defensive zone, displays no physicality whatsoever, and still needs to get significantly stronger, even as a 25-year-old. Despite the Sharks’ lack of prospect depth on the back end, Heed will need to prove that he can be more than a mere power play specialist.
Heed was originally passed over in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft before being selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the 5th round of the 2010 draft. At that time, Heed had only been playing defense for a year and was major project player. The Ducks liked his development enough to give him a three-year entry-level contract in 2012. However, Heed likely recognized the Ducks’ overabundance of offensive blueliners ahead of him on the depth chart and never came over to play official games in North America. Both sides agreed to mutually terminate the contract in 2014, declaring him an unrestricted free agent.
Skellefteå still has Heed under contract through next season, although it is presumed that his potential signing with the Sharks would void that deal. He recently underwent successful offseason wrist surgery and is expected to be fully-recovered before the end of August.
Should the signing come to fruition, this is a player to take heed in (pun intended) throughout training camp in September. The Sharks most definitely would not be bringing in a 25-year-old from overseas to simply place him on the Barracuda, even with the two-way nature of the deal. If Heed can transition easily enough to the North American game to win a spot on the Sharks next season, his offensive prowess on the blue line will be quite welcomed to a defensive corps that solely relies on Brent Burns as a pure puck-mover.