SAN JOSE -- To their dismay, the Sharks are about to get another chance to see if they can find success without Raffi Torres in their lineup.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Monday that Torres is likely to be sidelined for at least the first month of the season with a right knee injury, though the full extent of damage to his ACL has not been diagnosed.

"The choices are obvious: You can rehab, you can brace it, you can have surgery," Wilson said of the injury that resulted from a collision in Friday night's exhibition game against the Anaheim Ducks. "Until that's fully determined, there won't be a decision made."

Until the team learns whether that ACL is stretched or torn and what happens next, the Sharks won't know how long they'll be without Torres. Estimates for the recovery time range from six weeks to four months.

The 31-year-old Torres, who had been working hard to overcome his NHL bad boy reputation, sparked San Jose's play after his acquisition at last spring's trade deadline. But a hit on center Jarret Stoll earned Torres a series-long suspension in the second round of the playoffs, and without him the Sharks lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Kings.

Against Anaheim, Torres was hurt when he and forward Emerson Etem collided. Etem had been trying to stay onside and extended his leg behind him as he entered the San Jose zone; Torres was skating behind Etem and ran into his leg, sending both to the ice.


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While Etem said the next day that he was uninjured, the Sharks once again are trying to figure out a way to replace a player whose speed and hard-hitting style of play seemed to rub off on his teammates.

So with former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy now in the lineup and several prospects looking good in training camp, does coach Todd McLellan believe the Sharks are better equipped to deal with life minus Torres than they were in May?

"We're going to have to find that out," McLellan said. "I'd like to think we are ... but that question will be answered a little bit later on."

Without Torres, McLellan was forced to move Joe Pavelski out of his third-line center role and use him as a wing on the top two lines during the playoff series with the Kings.

But that might not be necessary this time with Kennedy, as well as prospects Tomas Hertl and Freddie Hamilton, vying for spots alongside Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns.

The absence of Torres would seem to improve the chances for Hamilton, 21, or another rookie, Matt Nieto, 20, to stay with San Jose rather than be reassigned to the development team in Worcester.

McLellan acknowledged that but said older prospects such as John McCarthy, Bracken Kearns or Matt Pelech are also in the running. Anthony Stewart, a 28-year-old veteran of 262 NHL games in camp as a pro tryout, also is a candidate to fill the void.

"He's giving himself a real good opportunity to make the team," McLellan said of Stewart. "We're three games away from where we have to make those decisions."

The first of those three remaining games on the exhibition schedule comes Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks at the SAP Center.

Couture acknowledged the significance of losing Torres. "It's tough," he said. "Injuries happen, but to lose someone like Raf for a long time, it's going to hurt."