All in all, the Sharks are looking much more like a cohesive unit this year. The Sharks are famous for slow starts, look for that trend to end this year if they can maintain the momentum.
1: Johan Hedberg: Looking solid, but clearly AHL material for now. Given that he’s already 26, and will be fighting for time in Kentucky, don’t look for him to be anything more than a team’s 3rd goalie.
3: Bob Rouse: Actually looking pretty strong, better than last year. I’m hoping the Sharks can use him in a situation where he only plays perhaps every other or every 3rd game to keep him fresh. Although with smaller rosters now, not sure if that will be possible. May be odd man out if rookies earn a spot.
5: Jeff Norton: Looking better defensively than offensively which is opposite of what I expected. Haven’t really seen much on offense, but has made several very nice defensive plays.
8: Jarrod Skalde: Haven’t really seen much one way or another about him. Solid play on both ends, no big mistakes.
10: Marcus Ragnarson: A jammed ankle has slowed him a little bit, but has looked solid paired with Mike Rathje again. He’ll be back in time for when they count.
11: Owen Nolan: Miracle of miracles, I have not seen him go postal yet. When last year he was hitting posts and missing all together, he’s right on this year. Looking sharp around the net during practices. Haven’t seen him much in scrimmage or games yet though.
12: Ron Sutter: Typical Ron Sutter. Solid play, not pitching in on a lot of offense, but does a fine job of maintaining the puck, and being solid on D.
14: Patrick Marleau: Looks faster than last year, if possible. Also seems to be doing better job of recognizing where rebounds are going. Pouncing on loose pucks very well. Expecting big year from him this year. He was a finalist for best in shape award.
15: Alexander Korolyuk: Once again, it seems like the coaches are focusing on him like they did last year. Seems to be responding this time though. Was a finalist for best in shape award.
16: Doug Friedman: He must have impressed someone, as he stuck around for a little while until getting sent to Kentucky. I for one didn’t really notice him one way or another.
18: Mike Ricci: Typical Mike Ricci… Annoying as ever. They said he dropped some body fat this year. That may become more evident as the year wears on. (Yes, his hair is longer than ever.)
19: Marco Sturm: Looks like he’s shown steady improvement in all areas of his game. In one exhibition, he scored a goal he would not have scored last year by fighting for the puck, and getting it to the net.
20: Gary Suter: Hasn’t really tested the elbow yet, but so far, so good. Has consistently been paired with Brad Stuart. Don’t be surprised to see them together when the games count. If the elbow is 100%, Shark fans are in for a treat. Won the award for coming to camp in the best shape.
21: Tony Granato: Typical Granato style of play. He just sort of hangs around, not doing anything spectacular, but not a liability, then all of a sudden he’s there as part of the offensive threat or is the guy clearing the puck up ice.
22: Ronnie Stern: Wins the award for biggest goof off at camp. Started posing for crowd at SJ Arena when he skated on the ice one practice. As for his play, typical Ronnie Stern play. Seems to be doing a better job of keeping himself in front of the net. Looks like he’s gotten a stronger on his skates, possibly strengthening the knee.
23: Shawn Heins: He has a wicked shot, but other than that he hasn’t impressed me. He’s getting beat back in his zone a lot, not reading plays well, and despite his size, is getting knocked off pucks. If only he had skill to add to that shot…
24: Niklas Sundstrom: Shark fans are going to like this guy. Good two way guy, and seems to be doing a good job with the Sharks system of play thus far. Perhaps more than anything, he just needed to get out of New York (can you blame him?).
25: Vincent Damphousse: If he continues what he’s doing now in the regular season, the Sharks have their #1 center. Jeff Friesen commented that “with him, I’ll score 40 goals.” As of now, with the way Damphousse is playing, I wouldn’t count that out.
27: Bryan Marchment: Has not impressed me at all. In some ways, he almost looked out of place, getting surprised by moves that a veteran should have. He’s getting beat back on defense, and just does not look sharp. If they need to free up a roster spot for a couple rookie d-men, look for him to possibly be moved.
28: Mike Craig: I thought he might stick around, and get sent down along with Skalde given that their roles are similar, but got sent down with a group of others recently. Was doing ok, but he’s a career minor leaguer.
29: Mike Vernon: Looks sharper than he usually does to start the year. He has a history of starting slow, but hasn’t done that so far. Looking very sharp, very quick reflexes.
30: Terry Friesen: They won’t admit it, but I think the Sharks are disappointed in him. He’s not developing as quickly as hoped. Just seems totally out of place, even in rookie camp. Look for him back in Richmond.
31: Steve Shields: Looking sharp. Didn’t have camp last year due to injury, should be interesting if he starts better this year. So far, I like what I’m seeing.
32: Murray Craven: According to the team and Craven, the leg is finally healed, but I would have to say he’s the best candidate for what happened to Bernie Nicholls last year.
33: Brantt Myhres: Looking pretty good. We’re used to him fighting, which he’s doing in his typical fashion, but is also looking decent with the puck. Don’t look for him on the top lines anytime soon though.
34: Miikka Kiprusoff: VERY impressive. Showing no signs of struggling in first North American play. Could challenge for backup next year if Vernon retires.
35: Evgeni Nabokov: Whatever his first name is now (he changed it-again), he’s looking strong as well. He just needs to face shots, gain experience. He and Kiprusoff could challenge for backup role next year if Vernon retires.
36: Brad Stuart: Showing signs of being an excellent player, but at times has shown he needs some work too. Consistently paired with Suter, look for that pairing more often, but when it counts. Has shown several dynamic moves to the net and on the PP.
37: Stephane Matteau: Haven’t noticed him one way or another. Will have to plead ignorance.
38: Jarret Deuling: Did not impress me. Was not good with the puck at all, having it stolen from him nearly every time.
39: Jeff Friesen: Once again, looks like he’s gained some strength. Haven’t really seen a ton of goals from him in practice or scrimmage, but passing seems to be more on the mark than last year. Have only seen him in one scrimmage so far though.
40: Mike Rathje: Continuing his development, looking better again. Something that Sharks fans will enjoy to see is that he is playing the body better than he did last year.
41: Chris Armstrong: Was playing a solid game, but clearly was the low man on the totem pole among the defensemen. Kentucky should have a solid defense this year. Although some are young, they should be solid in front of Kiprusoff.
42: Andy Sutton: Has looked ok. Not particularly good, but not bad either. I’m guessing he’s the 3rd man on the list for callups, behind Hannan and Stuart. The fact that he can play the left wing or defense does make him a bit of a commodity.
43: Scott Hannan: Won the award among rookies for being best in shape. He has not looked like a rookie at all. He seems to know where the puck is going and creating turnovers by picking off passes, and stripping the puck. Hasn’t shown the offense he’s capable of, but is making up for it on defense.
44: Matt Bradley: Showing signs that he can be an effective wing for your 1st-3rd lines. Has the speed for first, and the defensive awareness for 3rd. 2nd or very good 3rd line wing is what he’ll probably end up being. Still needs to react a little quicker. Look for him in San Jose if injuries mount though.
45: Jonathan Cheechoo: Has made some amazing moves with the puck, but still needs to work on his skating-desperately. Knee injury at the end of last year slowed his development. Still a project, but if he can even be an average skater, he can be a very good player.
46: Mark Smith: At times got overwhelmed by NHL caliber players, but that’s expected to a degree. Didn’t make any huge mistakes, but didn’t do anything to really show why he should stick around longer than he did either. Should have a strong year in Kentucky.
47: Adam Colagiacomo: He showed a lot of NHL skills in camp, and I’m a bit surprised that he didn’t last longer than he did. Did a good job of getting to the puck, and fighting for the puck. Showed good offensive flair, and wasn’t afraid to make his move to the net. Was responsible back on defense as well. Needs to work on his skating, especially acceleration. A year in Kentucky should do him good.
48: Christian Gosselin: Didn’t really notice him one way or another. Just sort of seemed to be there.
49: Peter Roed: I was rooting for him this year, mostly because I’m a sucker when it comes to the underdogs. He and Kraft were in camp this year to prove their worth for Kentucky. Kraft showed his worth, and earned a spot on Kentucky I think. Not sure about Roed. Will need to show improvement in Kentucky.
50: Jon Coleman: Similar situation as Armstrong. Wasn’t doing bad, but when it came to cut X amount of players on defense, he was the odd man out. Should provide a good 3rd-5th d-man in Kentucky.
51: Garrett Burnett: Continued his battle with Adam Nittel left over from last year. Was sent down to Kentucky early. With both he and Nittel down there, things should get interesting. He didn’t particularly impress me one way or another. Kentucky won’t really need two thugs, look for Burnett to possibly go to Richmond.
52: Eric Landry: Has looked very impressive so far, in practice, scrimmage and preseason games. Is very quick to the net, isn’t getting knocked off the puck, and is getting back and being responsible in his zone. He went in as a surefire player for Kentucky, but now, if things fall into place, he could find himself on the team.
53: Rob Davidson: Didn’t really notice him one way or another, but that was largely due to the fact he wasn’t making any huge mistakes. Survived quite a few sets of defensive cuts until getting sent back to junior.
54: Robert Mulick: In some ways, he impressed me. I wasn’t expecting him to make it as long as he did, but he lasted a while, and earned himself a spot on Kentucky. I didn’t see him past center ice, but was solid back on D, didn’t see him get beat once.
55: Didier Pietropaulo: He didn’t get injured, there’s a plus. Other than that, I didn’t notice anything out of him.
56: Rajean Stringer: Seemed to have some skill around the net, but didn’t really do much anywhere else. Some time down in Kentucky to round out his skills will do him good. He could be a decent depth guy in a few years.
57: Robert Jindrich: Came in and has surprised everyone. No one expected him to make it past the first two or three sets of cuts, but he’s still around (as of 9-17). He has been very solid in all aspects. Solid back on defense, is VERY good with his stick, poke checking the puck away at just the right times, and is making decent moves on offense. Reminding me of Bill Houlder. Look for him in limited duty next year or the year after.
58: Adam Nittel: Continued his battle with Burnett, and started a few others as well it looks. He didn’t look bad, as he was able to do more with the puck then just fight like some enforcers do. A year or so in Kentucky should round out his skills and teach him to use his teammates more.
60: Aniket Dhadphale: Never saw him on the ice. Was invited to try out for Kentucky.
61: Eric LaPlante: Seemed to be really pesky on the ice, trying to zip his way to the puck, and scrap for everything he could. Needs to work on his endurance though, as there were times when he was spent, and the rest were still going strong. Also needs to get a big chip off his shoulder. Players seemed to be keying on him at times.
62: Eric Betournay: He showed good quickness once he realized what he wanted to do, but needs to realize what he needs to do a lot quicker. Could use a little more size, as he was getting knocked around pretty easily.
63: Ryan Kraft: He stuck around longer than I thought he would. He impressed me. Wasn’t afraid to go against established NHLers for the puck, and proved that he at least belonged in camp, and a spot on Kentucky.
64: Kris Porter: Someone must have saw something to warrant him sticking around for a little while, but it wasn’t me. I didn’t really see anything one way or another from him, but he stuck around for a bit.
65: Chris Lipsett: Was invited on a tryout basis, was released in first set of cuts.
66: Miroslav Zalesak: Was hoping to see a bit more of his offensive flair, but the reason I didn’t is because he is improving on his defense. He did show his offensive capabilities at times. A project, but getting better.
67: Teemu Riihijarvi: Why did they sign this guy? He does a good job if the puck is far away, but when he gets the puck, it is an absolute embarrassment. It literally looks like he’s never touched a hockey stick. Talk about a PR move gone bad.
68: Sean McAslan: I was thinking the same thing you’re thinking–who?
69:Jason Williams: Was invited on a tryout basis, was released in first set of cuts. Will re-enter the draft. Look for him to be picked up by someone next year.