Thursday, September 15, 2016, brought an end to the summer for San Jose Sharks rookies and prospects with the start of Sharks Rookie Camp. The camp runs from September 15 through September 21. All of the players converged at Sharks Ice in San Jose, before separating into two groups:
- The first group is the “Sharks 2016 Rookie Roster” that is composed of the 28 players (16 forwards, 10 defense, and two goalies) who are playing in two “showcase” games against Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks prospects in Westminster Colorado.
- The second group is the “Sharks 2016 U50 Roster” that is composed of the 13 players (five forwards, six defense, and two goalies) who remained in San Jose, who are practicing daily at Sharks Ice.
The 41 players at camp are competing for one of the 23 roster spots on the Sharks. To make competition for a spot with the big club even tougher, the Sharks added Mikkel Boedker and David Schlemko. That said, and with so few available slots, most of the players at the camp will end up playing for the San Jose Barracuda, returning to Juniors, or playing elsewhere.
Projecting an Opening Night Roster
One could speculate that on opening night the Sharks forward group will likely include: Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Mikkel Boedker, Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi, Patrick Marleau, Chris Tierney, Joel Ward, Matt Nieto, and Melker Karlsson. That is 11 forwards holding the 12 (or more) slots available on the starting roster.
Despite the competition described in the section above, this is why there is a chance for a player such as Timo Meier (2015 first-round draft pick), or perhaps Marcus Sorensen (signed with the Sharks in May) to stay with the Sharks. If Hertl ends up back at center, this opening could end up being a spot next to one of the best passers in the game. However, this could all change if another Shark’s player (Tommy Wingels) really makes a case for themselves in camp or the Sharks sign or trade for another forward.
The Sharks Defense looks pretty set with a likely top six of Brent Burns, Paul Martin, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon, and newcomer David Schlemko. It will be curious to see if Dylan DeMelo or Mirco Mueller, who both played games last season, challenge for a role.
With the departure of James Reimer, the Sharks will need to find a new backup to Martin Jones. Aaron Dell took over the starting job for the San Jose Barracuda last season and looks to have the inside track to the backup job if the Sharks look from within. However, also expect Sharks free agent signee Mantas Armalis, as well as Troy Grosenick to be in competition for the spot.
Rookie Showcase in Colorado
A peek at the #SJSharks rookies behind the scenes at the Rookie Showcase.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) September 18, 2016
The Sharks lost the first Rookie Showcase game against the Colorado Avalanche Rookies by a score of 4-1. Armalis played in net for the entire game, facing 22 shots, making 19 saves, and allowing 3 goals. While the score might make you think that the Sharks rookies might have been drowsy from the flight, they played a good uptempo game, pouring 36 shots on the Avalanche rookies.
Sorensen had an assist on the lone Sharks goal in which he used his speed to beat the Avs defender to the puck behind the net. Jeremy Roy did a great job jumping up into the play and he scored the goal off Sorensen’s pass, but he was also out on the ice for some of the Avalanche goals and likely will have to make some adjustments. Timo Meier did not dress for the first game.
Rookie Showcase Game 1 Highlights (Sorensen’s Assist at 1:56):
The Sharks Rookie Showcase continues in Colorado on Monday, September 19 against the Anaheim Ducks rookies.
Sharks U50 Rookie Camp
I checked in on the Sharks U50 Rookie practice (the group that didn’t go to Colorado for the Rookie Showcase) and saw the prospects putting in a lot of hard work. In an intense one-hour on ice session they practiced some offense-versus-defense drills (1-on-1’s, 2-on-1’s, 3-on-2’s), but the practice ended with extremely hard skating drills, and ended with most of the players laying over or kneeling at center ice.
Dell and Grosenick were part of the extreme skating drill and they both pushed hard through it. Nikolay Goldobin was solid on the puck during the offensive drills, seemingly often keeping the puck on his stick when it shouldn’t have done so. The Sharks have him listed at 5 foot 11 and 175 pounds on their camp roster, but he seems like he might have gotten a bit bigger and stronger.
On Defense, Dylan DeMelo was the player at this camp with the most NHL experience with 45 games played. He didn’t do anything that stood out in either a bad way or good way, which is often what you would say about a reliable defender. DeMelo has been exactly that. Defenseman Patrick McNally, who was acquired in a trade from the Vancouver Canucks at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, looked solid at the practice, and his size and reach factored in on several plays.
I was also fairly impressed by Tim Heed, who signed as a free agent in May, with his impressively smooth skating. He looks like he could bring some offense to the Sharks defense. Heed was a former forward and he shows it off with his extra offensive creativity and confidence with the puck. With a one-year contract, Heed gets a chance this season to prove himself and possibly earn more time.