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Norris flashes promising form for Sharks

Center prospect's size, speed should make him future force in San Jose

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Joshua Norris couldn't have picked a better time to show off the speed and skill that helped convince the San Jose Sharks to make the center prospect the No. 19 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

With time running out in the Sharks Prospect Scrimmage on July 6, Norris, 19, bolted past defenders on a rush, took a cross-ice pass and scored the game-winning goal from the left face-off circle with 13.4 seconds left at SAP Center.

"You see why they drafted him where they did," said Roy Sommer, coach of the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks' American Hockey League affiliate. "He's got NHL quickness, which is something every organization's looking for."

 

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Norris had 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) last season playing as a freshman at the University of Michigan, which reached the Frozen Four but lost 4-3 to Notre Dame in the semifinals. Norris will return to Michigan this season and expects to improve his offensive numbers.

"I think that's definitely the next step I want to take," he said. "I think I'm a really well-rounded player already. I have the strength, I have the speed, I have the skill. I just need to produce more and show them they made the right pick last year."

San Jose development coach Mike Ricci praised Norris for the strides he made in the year since his first camp in 2017.

"He just seems to have the puck on his tape a little more," Ricci said. "Last year he was a little jumpy with it. We talked to him about it, trying to create more plays instead of just getting rid of the puck. It doesn't mean turning it over. You saw it today, having it on his tape, keeping it on his tape, trying to make plays.

"Big plays don't always happen right away. Sometimes they're there, sometimes you've got to take it to a different area, drive a [defenseman] down. I thought that's where his improvement's been."

Norris said he felt a lot more comfortable and confident on the ice at camp this year after his solid freshman season at Michigan.

"I gained a year of experience," Norris said. "I just felt like I could be myself more this year and not have to worry about fitting in. Kind of just went out there and played my game. I thought I did a good job for the most part."

Norris showed up at development camp in top physical condition. He ranked first in five of 14 fitness tests at the 2017 NHL combine, and said he has grown about a half-inch and added five or six pounds of muscle since a year ago, when he was listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds.

"He's a specimen," Sommer said. "He's effortless when he skates. He's on top of his blades. He can really motor and make things happen."

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