Niemi headlines notable newbies
Sharks fans got the first look at the 2010-11
version of the roster over the weekend, with the opening of training camp at
Sharks Ice. 53 players are vying for 23 spots over the next two weeks before
the club boards a plane for Europe to play in an exhibition game in Germany and
two season opening contests against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Sweden.
The team spent the first two days of camp focusing on implementing new
schemes into their repertoire and familiarizing themselves with new faces up
and down the roster. The most notable additions were perched on opposite ends
of the rink, decked out in goaltending gear that was a subtle reminder of last
seasons conference finals.
Antti Niemi, the Sharks surprise
signing a few weeks ago, was equipped with his Blackhawks helmet and pads in
the practice sessions and scrimmage on Sunday morning. Even his stick was
trimmed in red, which clashed with the teal and black Sharks crest on his
jersey. Mae no mistake though, Niemis allegiance is with San Jose after
Chicago cast him to the wind following an arbitration loss last Summer.
Niemis Stanley Cup winning performance last spring doesnt
necessarily mean the starting goaltending job is his though. Antero Nittymaki
was inked to a two-year deal before Niemi became available and hell have
something to say about the starting role in net.
Niemi is being
treated like the starter after only two camp sessions, but Nittymaki will get
his chance to take back the spot that he assumed was his only few weeks ago.
Thomas Greiss seems to be the odd man out with this whole situation.
Greiss was dressed and on the ice Sunday, but his opportunities were limited.
Outside the pipes, Jamal Mayers took to the ice this weekend and made
it clear that hes a veteran with a few games under his belt. Whats
the most surprising about Mayers is his size. A few years removed from his days
as a St Louis Blues forward, the veteran has bulked up and will log minutes on
the Sharks 4th line.
Mayers played on a line with another energy guy
in Scott Nichol on Sunday. Nichol was flanked by Frazer McLaren on the left
side, which creates an interesting trio on that 4th line. Both McLaren and
Mayers can push people around and use their fists to keep opposing players in
line. Throw in the scrappy Nichol between them and you have the making of a
rough and tumble line that could easily become a fan favorite this season.
Questions on the blueline still abound, but Sharks General Manager
Doug Wilson may have addressed things by bringing Andreas Lilja to camp on a
tryout basis. Lilja has some catching up to do, given his late invitation, but
his past experience with McLellan in Detroit should ease things a bit for the
35-year old defenseman.
In the Sunday scrimmage, Team A defeated Team B 3-2 on
goals by Devin Setoguchi, Joe Thornton and Derek Joslin. Torrey Mitchell
appears headed in the right direction after battling injuries the last two
years. A broken leg sustained in a training camp scrimmage in 2008 set
Mitchells promising career development back significantly. He was all
over the ice on Sunday, skating on Logan Coutures right side. Mitchell,
Couture and Jamie McGinn form a young blood line that will serve to inject some
energy in the Sharks offense this season.
Team Bs top line of
Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Dany Heatley provided all that squads
offense in the Sunday scrimmage.
Several prospects made their mark on
Sunday, including right winger Tommy Wingels, who looked good on the ice.
Defenseman Joe Loprieno also saw lots of action for Team A.
scrimmage was stopped briefly, to attend to Kent Huskins, who was cut below the
left eye from what appeared to be an errant Joe Thornton stick. Huskins left
the ice with a towel soaking up the blood extruding from the cut.
The Sharks thinned out the locker room
clutter last Friday by reassigning or releasing 14 prospects. Cameron Brodie
and Leigh Salters were assigned to Worcester, while goaltender Thomas Heemskerk
was sent back to Everett of the WHL. Marek Viedensky, a 2009 7th rund pick was
sent back to Saskatoon.
Four more players were returned to their junior
clubs, including defensemen Konrad Abeltshauser (Halifax), Dominik Bielke
(Berlin) and centerman Freddie Hamilton (Niagara) and Philip Varone
Six tryout players including Cam Braes (Lethbridge), Spencer
Edwards (Moose Jaw), Daniel Erlich ( London), Samuel Finn (Lewiston), Spencer
Humphries (Tri-City), and Zach OBrien (Acadie-Bathurst) were released.
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