San Jose Barracuda 2016-17 Season Preview

The San Jose Sharks top affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda finished the 2015-16 season with 73 points. They clinched the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference for the playoffs and had a tough matchup against the top-seeded team, the Ontario Reign. Although the Barracuda lost this series  (1-3), this is an improving team that has added some skill since last season.

It has been one year since the Barracuda, played their first game at SAP Center. One of the season highlights was on February 10, 2016, when Coach Roy Sommer became the winningest coach in American Hockey League history. Roy Sommer had been the head coach of the Sharks’ AHL affiliate since 1998 as he coached the Barracuda’s predecessor teams, the Kentucky Thoroughblades (1998-2001), the Cleveland Barons (2001-2006), and the Worcester Sharks (2006-2015). Coach Sommer was actually born in Oakland, CA, so the return to the Bay Area is a homecoming for him.

Barracuda attendance was ranked 24th in the league in 2015-16, with an average attendance of 4,432. But Sharks fans should know that the Barracuda are the future and the present for the Sharks, as last season 17 members of the Barracuda also got into games for the Sharks. As examples, in 2009-10 you would have seen Logan Couture play in the AHL, and in 2013-14 you could have scouted Martin Jones. If you were on the fence about going to a game, you should definitely go. Tickets are very reasonable, and you get to see some talented players. Here’s the schedule — circle your least favorite team(s) and don’t miss checking out a game.

Here’s Barclay Goodrow scoring for the ‘Cuda to kick off the Teddy Bear toss:

Who doesn’t love the Teddy Bear Toss?

NHL Futures

It’s worth mentioning again, that the Barracuda were a bottom seed playoff team last season, but they have received some significant upgrades for 2016-17. Here’s a little information about some of the Barracuda players:

Ryan Carpenter

Carpenter, the ‘Cuda points leader from last season, was one of the last players cut by the Sharks, a group that also included Nikolay Goldobin, Barclay Goodrow, Dan Kelly, Kevin Labanc, and Mirco Mueller. Goldobin was the Sharks 2014 first-round pick, and he scored 44 points in 60 AHL games last season. Carpenter was just called back up to be with the Sharks on their road trip.

Nikolay Goldobin

Goldobin was the Sharks’ 2014 first-round pick, and he scored 44 points in 60 AHL games last season. He can be a very dangerous offensive player but will be expected to improve his 200-foot game before he becomes an NHL regular with the Sharks.

Kevin Labanc
Kevin Labanc of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Marcus Sorensen

Sorensen, who signed with the Sharks in the offseason, was sent down by the Sharks to the Barracuda on October 4 so he was able to play in both of the Barracuda’s exhibition games. He was the best player on the ice for both teams in the first game, scoring a hat trick and generally carrying the play. In the second game, Sorensen scored the lone ‘Cuda goal against the Bakersfield Condors. In the two exhibition games, Sorensen scored four out of the five ‘Cuda goals. As he adjusts to the game in North America he will likely continue to improve, but his play early on is already turning heads.

Kevin Labanc

Labanc, the Sharks’ sixth-round draft pick in 2014 really impressed, following up his 127-point season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts, and also earned an extended look in the Sharks preseason. Labanc played in five Sharks preseason games scoring two goals and two assists, despite playing fairly limited minutes.

He also has a great twitter handle:

Barclay Goodrow

Goodrow is pretty well-known having already played 74 games in the NHL. He has good size and can play in various roles as needed. He can score goals (he scored 229 points in 313 OHL games) and he can play physical. You might remember him from this video from 2014:

Mirco Mueller

Mueller was drafted by the Sharks in the first round, 18th overall, in 2013. The smooth skating defenseman has already played in 50 NHL games and if it was not for the Sharks’ depth on defense, he would likely be playing in the NHL already.

Rourke Chartier

Chartier, the Sharks fifth-round selection in 2014, will begin his first pro season with the Barracuda, and he has looked good in the preseason games. He had a very big year for the Kelowna Rockets following his draft year (82 points in 58 games) but cooled off a bit last season (46 points in 42 games). As this indicates, the Sharks will be looking for him to build consistency in his game, which at times can be very high skill level.

Timo Meier

Meier, whom many expected to start the season with the Sharks, had mononucleosis which kept him from making a push for the opening night lineup. He was a first round pick in 2015, and he finished up his last season in the QMJHL 11th in scoring. The Sharks will be looking for him to be dominant in the AHL, and you can expect that he will get in some NHL games this season.

The Barracuda start their season in Stockton against the Heat  (the Calgary Flame’ affiliate) on Saturday, October 15. Their home opener is on October 28 versus the Bakersfield Condors (the Edmonton Oilers’ affiliate).