| Roster still needs
Prospects have small window to earn NHL
Training camp is an opportunity for players to get
back into the swing of things and for teams to get their rosters squared away
for the upcoming season. The Sharks have to do all those things on an abridged
schedule because of their European tour to kick off the regular season. One of
the biggest questions that remains is what the opening night roster will look
San Jose appears to have all but four roster spots locked down.
That assumes that they also move one of the three goaltenders that currently
occupy a roster spot. That goaltender is most likely to be Thomas Greiss, who
served as the Sharks backup last season.
Lets take a look at the
state of the roster:
Locks (10): Dany
Heatley, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe, Devin
Setoguchi, Torrey Mitchell, Logan Couture, Scott Nichol, Jamal Mayers
Probable (1): Jamie McGinn
Bubble (3): Benn Ferriero, Cam MacIntyre,
Locks (5): Dan Boyle,
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Niclas Wallin, Douglas Murray, Kent Huskins
Probable (1): Jason Demers
Bubble (2): Jay Leach, Derek Joslin
Locks (2): Antti Niemi, Antero
Assuming the roster consists of the locks and the probable
players listed above, the logical breakdown would include 13 forwards, 8
defenseman and a pair of goaltenders. Even that scenario isnt guaranteed,
because GM Doug Wilson has started the season below the league maximum 23
roster players before.
If he does elect to start the season with 13
forwards, which means two spots are still up for grabs. Cam MacIntyre would be
the odds on favorite to land one of those jobs for a couple of reasons. One,
Wilson signed the 26-year old winger to a two-year contract and two his age and
experience are tailor made to consume a roster spot, so that younger prospects
can log regular minutes in places like Worcester.
Benn Ferriero got a
taste of the NHL last October, but inconsistent play made his stay in San Jose
short lived. Frazer McLaren is a more likely choice to take up a roster spot
with the big club, because of his ability to drop the gloves.
Jody Shelleys departure at the trade deadline last March, the Sharks have
been missing the toughness to protect their star players. McLaren can fill that
role or share the duty with the likes of a Jamal Mayers.
side of the bench gets a little fuzzier. Much of what Wilson decides to do will
be dictated by what he sees from Jason Demers and Derek Joslin in camp. Jay
Leach will most likely serve as roster filler, while the prospects mature, but
the younger Demers and Joslin are the Sharks defensive future. Nick Petrecki is
the real defensive bright spot in the Sharks farm system, but its
unlikely hell get at an everyday roster spot this season.
San Jose still also has a bit of a surplus in terms of
cap space, so its not outside the realm of possibility to see Wilson
acquire a solution as well. Thats more likely to happen to fill a
defensive roster spot. New York Rangers restricted free agent Marc Staal has
been reported to be a player on Wilsons list. The Sharks only have $1.8
million in cap space to work with, so a deal for Staal would require San Jose
to part with one of the bigger contracts currently on the books.
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa is also an option, albeit a tougher
situation to make work. The Canucks have 8 defenseman on their roster, all
making over $1 million, but more importantly are $3.7 million over the salary
cap. A deal for Bieksa would be tough to fit into the Sharks budget, because
Bieksas cap hit is $3.75 million and the Sharks dont have that much
wiggle room. They cant ship someone elses contract to Vancouver
because of the Canucks cap issues.
The free agent market is another
possibility, but the pickings are slim. Former Sharks captain Owen Nolan threw
out his own feeler last week by saying that he would love to return to his
former team. It makes more sense for Nolan than the Sharks though. He lives in
San Jose during the off-season, so it's convenient. He's also at the end of his
career, so playing for a bona fide Cup contender is something that may be more
of a priority for Nolan.
Problem is, Wilson may want to appropriate what
little money he has left to a defenseman. The sharks are also trying to make
opportunities available for their prospects, so Nolan eats up a roster spot.
There's also the Patrick Marleau white elephant. It's been long rumored that
Marleau didn't exactly take well to Nolan's personality when the two were
teammates during Nolan's initial tenure in San Jose. Do you bring back a
personality that could potentially negatively affect your team's biggest goal
Given all of this, its more likely that
youll see a youngster from the Sharks farm system manning the back line
this season. At least to begin the season.
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