Sharks Prospects Ready for AHL

The reality of the San Jose Barracuda’s situation is three top wingers are up with the San Jose Sharks as of this being written: Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen and Timo Meier. Add in the departure of Nikolay Goldobin in March in the Jannik Hansen deal, and the talent on the wings could certainly use an infusion.

Sharks’ Prospects AHL-Ready

The Barracuda already feature four newcomers to the organization in Noah Rod, Tim Clifton, Nick DeSimone and Clarke Saunders. Rod is still waiting on visa issues to sort out, while Clifton has already skated in a pair of games. DeSimone and Saunders are both likely to get time this weekend in a two-game series against the Manitoba Moose. But more players could be on the way soon.

Below is a quick rundown of who might make a brief showing for the Barracuda in April (or maybe even May). Rod is a certainty for the Barracuda, but additional firepower never hurt any team’s playoff success.

Gage Ausmus – 2013 5th Round (NCAA)

The captain of the Fighting Hawks completed his senior season in Grand Forks and will be a Sharks prospect for only a little bit longer. If the Sharks do not sign him soon, he would become a free agent. Ausmus has limited offensive upside and he is not the fleetest of foot. The signing of DeSimone raises eyebrows but the two defenders are completely different in their game. Either way, defensive depth could be helpful for the Barracuda and allow the Sharks brain trust to see if he is worth a contract.

Rudolfs Balcers – 2015 5th Round (WHL)

What to do with the deadly Latvian sniper will be a topic of interest for San Jose’s prospect fans. Balcers possesses one of the best shots in the pipeline and posted an impressive 40 goals to lead the WHL rookies in scoring, and his 77 points placed him third. He’s older than the typical CHL rookie, but it was an impressive showing nonetheless. Balcers had some concerning comments to Kamloops This Week and needs to get ink to paper with the Sharks organization. Kamloops is currently in a 3-1 hole to the loaded Kelowna Rockets and Balcers could be an impactful winger for the Barracuda.

Joachim Blichfeld – 2016 7th Round (WHL)

A seventh-round pick of the Sharks in 2016, Blichfeld and the Portland Winterhawks are heavy underdogs to the Prince George Cougars in round one. The Portland side is a very young team and even qualifying for the playoffs was a success. But they find themselves in a tied series that now is a best-of-three. The Sharks drafted the Team Denmark star out of the SHL so he is eligible for either the AHL or WHL next season. He likely benefits more from a big role in Portland than spending 2017-18 in San Jose.

Noah Gregor – 2016 4th Round (WHL)

The most surprising on this list is Gregor who has no points so far in four contests with the Moose Jaw Warriors. Gregor is a driving force on the Warriors’ top-six and is getting a handful from the Swift Current Broncos. If Moose Jaw is sent packing, the talented centerman could land with the Barracuda and likely get some playing time.

Mark Shoemaker – 2016 6th Round (OHL)

Shoemaker and the North Bay Batallion did not qualify for the OHL playoffs, and it’s a mild surprise he has not signed an ATO with the Barracuda already. Shoemaker is a defensive defenseman who likely would compete for playing time with DeSimone, Dan Kelly and OHL alum Jacob Middleton. Either way, some time with the Barracuda could aid in his development.

Manuel Wiederer – 2016 5th Round (QMJHL)

The two-way German pivot is skating with Meier’s old QMJHL club, in the Huskies, who find themselves in quite the battle with top prospect Nico Hischier and his Halifax Mooseheads. Wiederer was the last CHL-eligible prospect to leave the Sharks training camp and put together a solid second season in North America. Wiederer will turn 21 this November and thus will be looking for a professional squad to join if his QMJHL days end in the coming days.

QMJHL Defenders Hurt

San Jose’s pair of defenseman, Jeremy Roy and Cavan Fitzgerald, down in the ‘Q’ remain out with injuries. Fitzgerald will age out of CHL action next year and most likely will join the Barracuda for 2017-18. Roy suffered through yet another injury-plagued campaign. He probably returns to the QMJHL for his overage year with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and hopefully puts together a complete season free of injury.