Dominant in the regular season, the San Jose Sharks posted a 53-18-11 record for 117 points, en route to capturing the Presidents’ Trophy, a franchise first. The Sharks are a team built on youth and are now seeing the prosperity of their young talent after years of drafting and developing well. Doug Wilson, general manager of the Sharks, iced six rookies this past season, though just one of them for a full season.
Tomas Plihal, LW
Acquired 5th round, 140th overall, 2001
Plihal, 26, played more games than any other Sharks rookie this season, appearing in 64 games, often on the third and fourth forward lines. A lower-body injury forced the Czech native to miss the final month of the regular season, and he didn’t appear in any playoff games. A speedy forward with good NHL size, Plihal has 89 NHL games under his belt, though for him to improve his game, more ice time and greater opportunity is needed, something that the Sharks may not be able to accommodate because of their strong depth. A number of roster players are pending unrestricted free agents, so Plihal may able to secure a roster spot on the Sharks’ top three forward lines next season. Through 64 games, Plihal scored five goals, including a game-winner, and added eight assists. Plihal is a restricted free agent this off-season.
Jamie McGinn, LW
Acquired 2nd round, 36th overall, 2006
McGinn was given some opportunity in the 2008-09 season, playing 35 games and scoring six points (four goals, two assists) in those games. One of the Sharks’ top prospects, McGinn is projected as a potential top-six forward, manning the left wing. Though comparatively small at 5’11, the 20-year-old Fergus, Ontario native is a tenacious worker and he should get every opportunity at this fall’s training camp to make the big club.
Lukas Kaspar, LW
Acquired 1st round, 22nd overall, 2004
Though he only appeared in a handful of NHL games this season, Kaspar has again proven his versatility. A lanky forward who can line up on either wing, Kaspar is a sizable forward with strong offensive instincts, laced with his playmaking capabilities. Still, Kaspar’s consistency in both his offensive output and his effort level continue to lag his game and will need an injection of improvement for him to find full-time duty at the NHL level. Like Plihal, Kaspar is a restricted free agent this off-season. But, Kaspar is still young at 23 and so has plenty of time to improve his game.
With the big club this season (13 games), Kaspar managed four points, including the game-winning goal. Like many of the Sharks’ young talents, Kaspar’s status for next season remains in limbo and he will have to earn a spot at training camp.
Brad Staubitz, RW
Signed as a free agent in 2005
Like most tough guys, the agitating Staubitz is a willing combatant and a great utility piece who can play both the forward and defense positions. At the same time, granting Staubitz excessive ice time is a liability, as his skills aren’t made for a regular shift. Staubitz, 24, played 35 games for the Sharks this season, amassing 76 penalty minutes (including eight fighting majors), good for fourth on the club. Whether Staubitz can earn a full-time gig with the big club will depend on GM Wilson re-signing enforcer Jody Shelley, only one year left on his contract.
Riley Armstrong, RW
Signed as a free agent in 2004
With the fewest games of any Sharks’ rookie this season, Armstrong appeared in just two. The best prospect the Sharks have on right wing – which isn’t saying much – Armstrong is a character player and, because of his high energy, could find plumber work at the NHL level, grinding on the third and fourth lines. Armstrong, 24, will undoubtedly get more of an opportunity with the big club next season. He’s a restricted free agent this summer.
Derek Joslin, D
Acquired 5th round, 149th overall, 2005
The only Sharks rookie on defense this season, Joslin was recalled for a stretch of 12 games when veteran Brad Lukowich was lost to a lower-body injury in January. Joslin, 22, has the ability to quarterback the power play, something the Sharks’ blueline has struggled with in recent years. As Joslin continues to develop, so will his defensive game. Joslin is among the team’s top prospects and, should everything meet expectations, he has the making of a top-four blueliner. Joslin’s 11 goals were the most of any Worchester defenseman this season.