Dimitri Patzold – The 22-year-old from Kazakhstan has improved his game greatly in his second season in North America, passing his AHL win total from a year ago and his GAA is down to 2.51 from 2.88 last year. His save percentage is consistent with his play last season currently at .917. Patzold, a fourth round draft pick of San Jose in 2001, who has good reaction time and is a good skater, will need more time to develop. With the two-goalie system in place for the Cleveland Barons, Patzold looks sharper than his counterpart Nolan Schaefer.
Nolan Schaefer – The second year pro has not been as sharp as he was in his rookie season. He has equaled his win total (14) but has more losses (17) than last year. A draft pick of the Sharks in 2000, the Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan native has seen his GAA shoot up to 2.74 in 32 games from 2.34 in 27 games with Cleveland a year ago. He does have three shutouts, but his save percentage has dropped from .925 to .908 this season. Last season he played 12 games with Fresno of the ECHL where he went 5-5-0. The 24-year-old can work on his lateral movement.
Christian Ehrhoff – The 22-year old German has had a great impact since joining the San Jose organization. He leads all Cleveland defensemen in points (30), goals (11), assists (19), and power play goals (7) in his second North American pro season. Ehrhoff has a great shot and is dangerous from the point, leading all AHL defensemen with 196 shots. Ehrhoff recorded 12 points last year in 41 games with the Sharks, 10 of which were assists. At 6’2 200 pounds, he is not very physical but has taken 85 penalty minutes for the Barons in 60 games. He rushes the puck through the neutral zone well but his defensive aspect of the game needs to improve. He is last among Cleveland defensemen with a -10 plus/minus rating.
Josh Gorges – The 6’1 190-pounder from Kelowna, British Columbia is having a decent rookie season. Undrafted, the Sharks took a chance on Gorges who captained the Kalona Rockets to the Memorial Cup championship in 2004. Gorges is a decent playmaker, but has not enjoyed as much playing time as he did in juniors. He has 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) in 60 games. He is a solid skater and smart on the ice, only taking 35 penalty minutes this season. He leads all Cleveland defensemen with a +6 rating.
Garrett Stafford – The undrafted 25-year-old from Los Angeles, California has seen his production drop this season. In 54 games thus far, Stafford has 20 points (5 goals, 15 assists) opposed to 46 points a year ago. Stafford was the victim of an attack by Hamilton’s Alexander Perezhogin who hit Stafford with his stick on the head during last season’s Calder Cup playoffs. Stafford was suspended for six games for his role in the incident. He has not been as aggressive this season. Stafford is a good power play player scoring three power play goals this season. He is good at controlling the power play, but Cleveland is fourth to last in the league in converting. He is currently -6.
Doug Murray – The 6’3 230-pound Swede is an intimidator for the Barons. Murray can deliver checks as well as anyone in the AHL, but will have to work on his skating. The eighth round draft pick in 1999 needs to step up now. With a young defense up and coming in the Sharks system, the 25-year-old Murray will have to rely on his smart play to make it to the NHL. He does not take a lot of penalty minutes and is currently -9. Murray has a hard slapshot and has recorded 16 points this season and five goals, three of them on the power play. Murray has appeared in only 40 games this season.
Matt Carkner – The 6’4 229-pounder is in his fourth season in Cleveland. Carkner is not a skill player, he is an enforcer. He is second on Cleveland with 149 penalty minutes. In 59 games, the Winchester, Ontario native has seven points, all assists. Carkner’s defense has suffered this season. After two consecutive seasons with a positive rating for the Barons, Carkner is -9.
Tim Conboy – The Farmington, Minnesota native has been decent in his rookie season. At 6’1 205 pounds, Conboy played three playoff games for Cleveland last season. He has renewed his role as a fighter from his days in the USHL. He has 121 penalty minutes, third on the team. Conboy has shown promise in the disciplined part of his game. He has 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) and is one of two Barons defensemen with a positive rating at +1. The seventh round draft pick in 2002 will turn 23 on March 22.
Marcel Goc – The 21-year-old German is developing into the player the Sharks wanted when they drafted him in the first round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. In his second season of North American hockey, Goc has passed last season’s point total with 41 in 62 games this season, compared to 37 points in 78 games with Cleveland last season. Goc is second on the team with 29 assists including a streak of six consecutive games. The 6’1 205-pounder is an excellent puck handler and penalty killer, and has three of Cleveland’s five short-handed goals this season. Goc’s passing is a key to the Barons’ power play and he has scored three power play goals. Goc was impressive for San Jose in the playoffs last season where he made his NHL debut, scoring a goal and an assist in five games. He missed four games due to a wrist injury this year.
Shane Joseph – Originally undrafted out of Minnesota State-Mankato, the 23-year-old Brooks, Alberta native is proving he belongs in professional hockey. Joseph is a player who hustles. He avoids physical play, but is very smart. He has taken only four penalty minutes in 53 games this season. Joseph is sixth on the Barons with 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists). At 5’10 180 pounds, Joseph is undersized for the NHL, but he is a good passer and has an accurate shot. He will continue to develop in Cleveland in the near future.
Ryan Clowe – Clowe, a sixth round selection by the Sharks in 2001, has developed into a solid player. He leads the Barons in points (51), goals (21), assists (30), power play goals (12), plus/minus (+13), and shooting percentage of players on the team who have taken more than 100 shots (13.9). Clowe is big at 6’2 215 pounds and not afraid to take checks in the corners to dig the puck out. He has 88 penalty minutes this season. The 22-year-old St. John’s, Newfoundland native has played all 62 games thus far. He has boosted his stock by his play this season.
Grant Stevenson – A teammate of Shane Joseph in Minnesota State-Mankato, Stevenson is very similar to his counterpart. He was undrafted, undersized, but willing to check, hustle and play hard. He is fifth on the team with 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists). He is a solid two-way player although he is currently -6. The 5’11 170-pounder from Spruce Grove, Alberta is durable. He has played in 63 games for Cleveland and two games for Johnstown of the ECHL. Stevenson’s future will rely on his hard work and his ability to pester the opponent.
Aaron Gill – After playing six games with Cleveland under an AHL contract last season, the Sharks were impressed and gave Gill an NHL contract. The 25-year-old from Rochester, Minnesota is durable and smart. He has played 61 games and has only taken 14 penalty minutes. At 6’0 185 pounds, Gill is a defensive centerman. He only has seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) this season. He will need to work on his defense, currently a -8, which is his key to making it to the NHL. He will continue to develop in Cleveland, but his age is working against him.
Patrick Rissmiller – At 6’3 195 pounds, the Belmont, Massachusetts native is improving his game, and developing as a goal scorer. His big body has helped him. He is a grinder, and willing to check. He is second on the team with 18 goals and third with 38 points. He is an excellent on power play with seven power play goals. Another undrafted prospect, the 26-year-old played four games with San Jose last season.
Tomas Plihal – The 21-year-old from the Czech Republic has improved his point total (21), and goal total (13) from last season. He has five power play goals. At 6’3 192 pounds, Plihal is a talented offensive player. He is a good skater and excels and handling the puck. His defensive play holds him back as he tends not to hustle all the time. He is second to last on the team with a –12. Drafted by the Sharks in the fifth round of the 2001 draft, Plihal suffered a shoulder injury which has limited his action to 48 games. He will turn 22 on March 28.
Craig Valette – The 6’0 188-pounder from Shellbrook, Saskatchewan has seen his production drop this season. He has 9 points in 60 games and has tied last season’s goal total with six. He had 16 points in 56 games last season for Cleveland. Undrafted out of Portland of the WHL, is worst on the team at -15. He is a good fit in Cleveland, but does not seem likely to be able to crack the San Jose line-up any time soon.
Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.