A tough decision faces the Sharks as to which goalie will be San Jose’s No. 2. The team’s AHL affiliate may also face such a decision as three goalies vie for two spots.
Unlike the 2002-03 season, starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov looks to be in net from the drop of the puck this season after holding out last season. Nabokov will be need to rebound after a sub-par season compared to the Kazakh goalie’s previous campaigns.
With Nabokov unsigned to begin the 2002-03 season, the San Jose Sharks handed the reins to Finnish goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff after impressing in 20 games in 2001-02. However, the AHL All-Star goalie had a horrible start to the season and did not pick up his game until mid-January. Injury ended Kiprusoff’s season three weeks early, as he salvaged a .879 save percentage and a 3.25 goals against.
One man’s loss can be another man’s gain, as Vesa Toskala impressed in nearly all of his 11 appearances last season. The 26-year-old Finn finished with a save percentage of .927 and a goals-against average of 2.35, both tops on the Sharks last season. Toskala also starred for the Cleveland Barons, leading the AHL team in save percentage at .903 and goals-against at 3.21. Although such numbers are not impressive at first glance, one must consider the fact that the only defenseman to play over 60 games for the Barons last season was David Cloutier (all 80 games), as the rest went down to injury or were recalled by San Jose. After an impressive 2002-03, momentum is on Toskala