McLaren, who spent the past 4½ seasons with the Sharks, was waived Tuesday in a move to create salary-cap room. The oft-injured veteran is due to make $2.5 million this season, but he didn't fit the Sharks' plans after the club added defensemen Rob Blake, Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich to a young defensive core including Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Christian Ehrhoff and Doug Murray.
"Kyle is an NHL player," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He has the ability to play for many more years in this league, and it just didn't work out with us for whatever reason."
Assigning McLaren to the minors allows San Jose to get under the NHL salary cap for the upcoming season. If McLaren refuses to report to the AHL's Worcester Sharks, he could be suspended.
San Jose also has explored several trade possibilities for McLaren, who had three goals and eight assists while battling constant knee injuries last season. The team doesn't yet know whether he'll accept the assignment to Worcester.
San Jose also assigned forwards Riley Armstrong and Brad Staubitz to Worcester after they cleared waivers.
Earlier Wednesday, the Sharks re-signed left Tomas Plihal and defenseman Alexei Semenov to one-year contracts. Plihal has scored three points in 25 games with the Sharks over the past two seasons, while Semenov had four points in 22 games as a depth defenseman last year.