Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan and his staff have quite a bit of work to do in deciding who is playing in the lineup on opening night. What they do know is who they will have to work with when it comes to forming their decisions. San Jose is allowed a 24 man roster due the European trip and is at that number now.
“Up front we feel good where we are right now,” said McLellan. “We’ve got to finalize the goaltender position and on the blueline we’ve gotten a little bit thinner.”
In that 24 man group are several younger players who have a yet to register a single NHL point among them. With his four NHL games, John McCarthy makes for the veteran among the trio that also includes fellow forward Tommy Wingels
and defenseman Mike Moore
. None is even guaranteed a spot in the lineup Friday against Columbus, but you have to be part of the team before you can gain playing time.
When the Sharks made the decision not to sign veteran NHL Andreas Lilja, it was a huge statement about Moore talents.
“With the Andreas Lilja situation, a couple of our younger players stepped up and played really well throughout training camp and they deserve to carry on,” said McLellan. “In fairness to (Lilja), if we kept him here longer he would lose out on some chances he has in the NHL or around the world. We did what was right for him and what was right for our team.”
Wingels was playing for a scholarship last year, but will be part of the NHL show beginning Friday.
“You want to be here on this roster right now,” said Wingels. “This is what we worked for all summer and training camp. You wanted to be on this trip to get first crack at making the team.”
All three want to keep on rolling with what has them here in the first place and be part of a successful Sharks season.
“There is a lot of work to be accomplished,” said Moore. “You just want to help the team have success and help the team grow. You want to be a part of it. You want to try and be consistent and play like a veteran. Fill your role and do the best you can.”
McCarthy got a taste of San Jose last year and had a sense of what his role can be.
“I just try to stay consistent and try to go out and do my job,” said McCarthy. “Do what I can. That is all I worry about. Try to make the coaches trust me and trust my game.”
McLellan has been impressed all September with the two young forwards.
“Both of them have been very good from the beginning of training camp,” said McLellan. “They bring different elements to the game. John is a very responsible guy that checks. He often goes unnoticed, but when you go back and look at scoring chances against, he is seldom in on them. He has the ability to penalty kill. Tommy Wingels
is a little more dynamic offensively. He’s got a heck of a shot. He seems to get it off each night with two to three shots on goal. He can crawl up a line or two and still feel comfortable in contributing.”
The Sharks have a bevy of talent sitting Worcester, so it the duty of the young trio to keep themselves with San Jose.
“You’ve still got to work hard every day,” said Wingels.
“It’s exciting to be this far, but there is a lot of work to be accomplished,” said Moore. “You want to continue doing the things you did in camp into the season because that is what they are looking for. They are expecting the same thing from game one through game 82.”
ROCK STARDouglas Murray
is the star of the show right now for San Jose. The Swedish Olympian is garnering media attention like the Canadian Olympians do when they are in their homeland. Murray held court for at least 15 minutes after practice today at the Globe Arena and will likely be doing so all week.
“I realize what he (Thornton) has to go through every game because I’ve been sitting next to him since I got here,” joked Murray. “I usually can’t even get changed at my stall.”
Maybe they should put Thornton by Murray in Sweden and Thornton could see how the other half lives.
“I think that would be fair,” responded Murray.
McLellan reaffirmed that someone will don the “C” for opening night, but did not tip his hand as to who it would be or when the announcement would come.
“We will. It’s getting real close,” said McLellan. “We’ve had some input from the players themselves, which is the most important. It’s their lockerroom. They’ve given us a real good indication of who they would like to be represented by. The coaches have an idea of what they would like to do. Management has been involved in it. We’ve covered a lot of the basics. When we play on Friday we’ll have a captain and we’ll have some assistants. But more important, we have a really strong leadership group that can represent the team on a daily basis.”