This year the Sharks have four tryout players who will be playing for the team at the Prospect Tournament next week in El Segundo and trying to follow in undrafted defenseman Josh Gorges’ footsteps and earn a contract with team teal.
Despite the Cleveland Barons recent signing of Greg Labenski, tryout defenseman Tyler Hanchuck could still establish himself as Cleveland’s sixth or seventh defenseman.
The 6’4″ 225 lb defenseman was originally a third round pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft with the 79th overall pick. Unable to come to terms with the Canadiens, Hanchuck seems like a likely candidate to round out Cleveland’s roster. After an injury ravaged 2002-03 season in Cleveland, Hanchuck makes sense.
A teammate to Shark prospect forward Kris Newbury in Sarnia last season, the 21-year-old Hanchuck had 2 goals and 12 assists in 50 regular season games, six post season games and one game with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. Not unlike Shark prospect defensemen Rob Davison, Matt Carkner and Robert Mulick, the Canadian of Ukranian decent is known as an aggressive crease-clearing defenseman with character and leadership who prefers to make safe plays a la former Shark Bill Houlder. Given Hanchuck’s resume, don’t expect San Jose to use any Cleveland-signing loophole with Hanchuck—he’ll be signed outright just like Matt Carkner was two seasons ago.
Glen Olson, a 19-year-old fighting left wing for the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League, tallied only one goal and four assists in 41 game. Capitals head coach Scott Robinson said, “Glen is a big aggressive player who in the past has played the tough guy role very well.”
As the Sharks continue to add enforcers in the wake of the Jody Shelley incident, the 6’4″ 230 lb Olson could find himself joining Scott Parker, Yuri Moscesvsky, and Jonathan Tremblay in the enforcer role. Robinson commented, “[Olson’s] size and ability to give and take a punch are definite pre-requisites to doing that job at the pro level.”
But Olson isn’t merely a skating puncher: “He also has a decent set of hands for a big man,” said Robinson, “With hard work over the next couple of years Glen could become a physical force as a professional player.”
Of note, former Shark defenseman Doug Bodger serves as the Capitals’ Special Teams Coach while former NHL forward Greg Adams is the Player Development Coach.
Leading his team in scoring with 32 goals and 22 assists as a 17-year-old, center Geoff Platt endured a trying season with the Saginaw Spirit last season, the worst team in the OHL last season. The 5’9″ 175 lb center was Saginaw’s nomination for OHL Player of the Year as well as Faceoff Man of the Year, but was not considered for the Sportsmanship Award after a six-game suspension for a cross-check on London Knight forward Dylan Hunter (son of former NHLer Dale Hunter) early in the season. Although Platt is ineligible for AHL assignment until 2005, Platt could be this season’s Josh Gorges as a free agent major junior player signed by the Sharks.
A 6’3″ 220 lb 18-year-old defenseman, Clayton Stoner was the Tri-Cities Americans top-scoring rookie with four goals and 12 assists in 58 games. Americans general manager Bob Tory described Stoner as a physical stay-at-home defenseman who is good one-on-one and rarely beaten out of the corners. Offensively, Tory noted that Stoner has a good point shot and decent puck skills who makes a solid first pass out of the zone. Similar to Rob Davison in many ways, Stoner’s skating is average according to Tory, but is usually compensated for by sound positioning. Stoner’s similarity to Davison also extends beyond that. Tory says the Port McNeill, British Columbia native is very coachable and a quick learner who’s been improving rapidly.
Assistant coach Jim Hiller noted in correspondence that Stoner did not receive regular ice-time until after Christmas, but in 2003 Stoner “established himself as one of [Tri-Cities’] top defensemen.”
Hiller expects Stoner to be “an upper tier defenseman in the WHL this season.”
Demonstrating his willingness to improve, Hiller also said that Stoner attended former Vancouver Canucks strength and conditioning coach Peter Twist’s camp for eight weeks to improve his skating and quickness.
Stoner got his junior hockey start with the Campbell River Storm of the Victoria Island Junior Hockey League as the team’s Rookie of the Year for the 2000-01 season and the team’s Best Defenseman for the 2001-02 season. The undrafted Stoner was ranked the 184th North American prospect by Central Scouting in its Final Rankings could find himself eligible for the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, with his Shark tryout as an opportunity to prove himself.
DiSalvitore Inks with Sharks
The Sharks announced Jon DiSalvitore’s signing on Aug. 28, only a week before the Sharks participate at the Los Angeles King-hosted Prospect Tournament in El Segundo, California. DiSalvitore, a teammate of Shark prospect goalie Nolan Schaefer at Providence College, was also a Hockey East Honorable Mention, the recipient of the Friars Team MVP and Lou Lamoriello Award for his excellence in the intangible and subtleties of hockey. The 23-year-old right winger managed 19 goals and 29 assists in 36 games in 2002-03 and was named a finalist for the Walter Brown Award as the top New England-born NCAA Division I college hockey player.
DiSalvitore will likely fight for a spot on Cleveland’s second scoring line this season, but will face competition right wings such as Ryane Clowe and Willie Levesque, but also centers Marcel Goc, Kris Newbury, Tomas Plihal and Grant Stevenson, some of whom could play on the wing this season.