SAN JOSE -- James Sheppard's comeback camp with the Sharks took an incremental step forward Tuesday.

With 15 forwards here for a week's worth of practices before the season starts Sunday, Sharks coach Todd McLellan has added a fifth line to accommodate the overflow and that's where Sheppard spent the first two days.

But Tuesday he was skating on a fourth line with Andrew Desjardins and Adam Burish, two players all but assured of a spot in the opening night lineup.

Sheppard, a 2006 first-round draft pick by the Minnesota Wild who has missed the past two seasons after he tore up his knee in an offseason accident, said he wasn't putting too much stock in which line he was playing on.

One question for the Sharks is whether Sheppard, who has 23 points in 34 games, is a good fit on the line. From his perspective, it makes no difference where he might play.

"As long as you know your role, that's fine," he said. "You try to be like water and mold into anything they give you."

McLellan also didn't seem too concerned earlier in the week about where Sheppard might fit in best at the start.

"If I'm Shep," the coach said, "I'm battling to make the team and then do everything in my power to work my way up the lines."

  • The NHL relaxed its rules Tuesday, giving teams a chance this week to buy out the contract of a player earning $3 million or more, according to TSN.ca.


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    The change is expected to benefit only a handful of players, such as Scott Gomez of the Montreal Canadiens or Wade Redden of the New York Rangers. Neither was going to play in the NHL because of a high salary cap hit, and both had been told not to play in the minors where an injury would prevent their teams from buying them out this summer.

    Players would also have to clear waivers, but if all went well, those bought out would be able to get paid by their old team and sign contracts with a new one. The Sharks do not have anybody in a buyout situation, but could be in the running to pick up a player who becomes available.

    For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.