A couple of themes have become apparent for the San Jose Sharks: their ability to sign European players who can make an immediate impact, and their commitment to speed.
In 24-year-old Swedish prospect Marcus Sorensen, they might have both. The Sharks inked the forward to an entry-level contract back in May — while they were in the midst of their playoff run — so many fans may have glossed over the acquisition.
But just like Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson came over from Europe and made an impact last season, Sorensen, last year’s rookie of the year in the Swedish Hockey League could soon be contributing in the NHL for the Sharks.
San Jose Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer, speaking at the Sharks’ development camp earlier this month in San Jose, said Sorensen reminds him a lot of Donskoi and Karlsson.
“I see a lot of the other two guys in him – Donskoi and Karlsson,” Sommer said. “Just his attitude and his focus and his intensity. Can you have three clones?”
Sorensen was tied for second on his Swedish team, Djurgårdens IF, last season with 15 goals to go along with 19 assists.
What sets him apart a bit from Donskoi and Karlsson, though, is his speed. Highlight clips show him blazing past defenders and cutting in on net for scoring chances. Hockey’s Future describes him as a “fast but light forward with strong stickhandling and passing skills.”
Sorensen said on his skating ability: “That’s my best thing on the ice. I love to skate and work hard, so it’s easy for me.”
One adjustment he will have to make is the smaller sized rink in the NHL compared to international play, a factor that Sommer thinks will play in Sorensen’s favor.
“He can get after pucks quicker,” Sommer said. “He can play a more up-tempo. It’s shorter for him to get to places. And he’s quick, so, in the long run, I think that’s going to benefit him.”
Sorensen noted, “You’re going to take the puck faster to the net.”
From Sweden to San Jose
The 6-foot, 161-pound forward said watching Donskoi and Karlsson’s success was not the deciding factor in his choosing to sign with San Jose, but that “it’s not a bad thing.”
Sorensen recalled that after he met with the Sharks in February, he “felt right away after the meeting that these guys are for real.”
“This is where I want to play,” he added.
Sorensen may have picked the right time to join the Sharks, who are making speed a priority after being out-quicked by the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final last season. They added Mikkel Boedker, a quick-skating winger, to a four-year deal almost immediately after free agency began. David Schlemko, a mobile defenseman, also came aboard in free agency.
And of course, there’s Donskoi and Karlsson – the former scored an overtime game-winning goal to give the Sharks their first-ever win in the Stanley Cup Final and the latter worked his way up to the top line by last season’s end.
Still, Sorensen knows there are no guarantees.
“Of course, I see that opportunity, but it’s a hard way,” Sorensen said of the European-to-the-NHL path. “A lot of guys battle for a few spots. It’s going to be hard.”