It’s hard to imagine that a team with 11 players 25 years or younger would be in search of young players to fill voids, but San Jose, like every team, is in a constant search to fill future voids in their roster. As early as next year, the Sharks may be in need of help particularly at the forward positions, and they may look to the current roster in Kentucky for that help. This article is the first of three that will start with the forwards.
Roy Sommer, the head coach of the Kentucky Thoroughblades, the Sharks primary affiliate, has done a great job of molding young players into future NHL players. Some players he has developed this year were considered career minor leaguers until this year. Now those players are now seen as possible role players in the near future.
One such player is center Eric Landry, who before this year had bounced around between Hamilton and St. John of the AHL, with a few brief stints with the Calgary Flames. During the summer of 1999, the Sharks signed Eric Landry with the intention of sending him to Kentucky, as he was expected to provide a lift with the departures Steve Guolla and Herbert Vasiljevs.
Landry has provided more than anyone expected, and if not for the fact that San Jose has been healthy at the forward positions, he would almost certainly have been called into action with San Jose. Landry is 2nd on the team in goals (32) and points (61) and is 5th on the team in PIMS (145).
The good, the bad, and the ugly… It’s the name of a good movie, and also very
appropriate for the Sharks 1999/2000 season. Certainly, this has not been a good season
for the San Jose Sharks, but there have been some bright spots. Unfortunately, this season has also had its share of bad and ugly portions for Sharks prospects.
First, I’m in a good mood, so I’ll start with the good. Clearly, it has been a very impressive rookie year for Brad Stuart. Stuart has probably been the top rookie defensemen in the NHL this year, and has consistently been around the top three in opinions for the Calder. While like any rookie he has experienced his ups and downs, he has always managed to come out of them. Stuart was named the Sharks Player of the Month for February.
Stuart has shown everything and more that he was touted as being. He has shown a great amount of offensive skill. At only 20 years old, he has quickly earned time on the special team units, and has quickly become one of their key players. While he has made a share amount of rookie mistakes, one thing that is amazing is that he has always been able to rebound from them, often nullifying the mistake before it costs his team a goal. Read more»
When talking about valuable players for a team, most first think of star players. Clearly, Jaromir Jagr is a valuable player for the Penguins, as is Lindros to the Flyers, as is Marleau to the Sharks. Am I putting Patrick Marleau in the same class as the other two? Certainly not, but he is certainly an important piece of the puzzle to the future of the San Jose Sharks. A puzzle which so far this year, has not resulted the way the Sharks would hope.
This year started great for the Sharks team, but of late, the Sharks have floundered into mediocrity, going from one of the best in the league, to one of the worst. Even when the Sharks were winning during the first month of the season, however, it was veterans such as Owen Nolan and Vincent Damphousse who were performing.
One of the most touted young players in years, Patrick Marleau is now starting to be considered a bust by some San Jose fans, and even reporters who are jumping off the bandwagon. No one can debate that he has struggled far more than expected this year, but to call him a bust is incredibly premature.
In 46 games this year, he has recorded only 10 goals and 14 assists, slower than his pace of last year, when he scored 21 goals and 24 assists in 81 games. During his first two years in the league, he did an excellent job of creating chances for himself, often missing the net from there, but at least getting the chance.
“He’s our secret weapon. He’s played outstanding. Robert always gives a second effort.
If he does get beat, you know he’s going to the net and he finds a way to get a glove or stick or something on the puck and I think that he is underrated. He’s a big part of why we are where we are today”, Head Coach Roy Sommer
Kentucky’s 23 year old defenseman played his hockey in his hometown, Plzen, in the Czech League and for Beroun, Czech in Division 1. In 1996 Robert played for the Czech World Junior team at the World Jr. Championships in Boston, Massachusetts. Robert recalls, “It was a big challenge. This was the first big tournament for me, and the whole team, to represent our nation and show off our skills to impress the scouts. We won our group and then 8 or 9 players got the flu, including me. We lost the semi finals. It was bad luck.”
Jim Wiley, Director of Hockey Operations for Kentucky, said, “I think that Robert has had some opportunity to mature since his draft year of ’95. The Sharks’ have done a very, very good job in waiting until they felt it was the right time to get him over here. He’s played on top-notch teams in Czechoslovakia, which has given him a lot of years of good hockey experience.”
As many of the major developmental leagues reach their midway point in their seasons, the Sharks, like every other team, have prospects who have surprised and done well, and others who have struggled more than would be expected. This is a list of many of San Jose’s prospects, and their status. Next to their name is either a +, -, or = sign, signifying that they’ve either improved, declined or maintained their stock. Followed by vitals and statistical information. (stats as of 12-26-99 unless otherwise noted)
Eric Betournay = Center 4/30/81 6’1” 197lbs
Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 41GP 7G 18A 25PTS -13 32PIM
He may end out being a steal chosen in the 8th round, but still needs improvement. He simply doesn’t yet possess NHL skills, and needs to learn how to maintain control of the puck in traffic. He’s the type of player who needs strong players around him, or isn’t the most effective player. Playing on a weak Chicoutimi team is not helping.
Matt Bradley -/= Right Wing 6/13/78 6’2” 195lbs
Kentucky (AHL) 34GP 8G 9A 17PTS 44PIM +12