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Battles For Final Spots Winding Down

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
With the 11 roster assignments made on Sunday, the Sharks now have 33 players fighting for the 24 available roster spots. Who fits where and why will play a big role in what happens between now and Thursday’s departure to Germany. There are some givens for spots as even the best practical joker couldn’t convince someone Joe Thornton’s position was up for grabs.

“It gets tougher and tougher because your competition gets a little smaller, the spotlight is on you a little bit more,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “The players that remain here have done a really good job in getting noticed night in and night out. It doesn’t mean they are perfect, they still make mistakes, but they are very competitive. They’ve done something in game or practice situations that have caught our eye. They provide an ingredient that we perhaps are looking for.”

The Sharks have shown in the past they will adjust the roster if a player demands a spot, so someone with an NHL contract may not have a distinct advantage over a player in San Jose on a tryout basis or someone with a two-way contract.

“When we are at this stage of camp, we often just look at who is competing for the roster spot and that is a great way of doing it,” said McLellan. “I look at it that way, but only to a certain point. Then I look at who is competing for ice time, what line do you want to play on and who do you want to play with.”

That being said, several spots that are essentially filled when considering Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Thornton, Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi, Jamal Mayers, Scott Nichol and Torrey Mitchell. Jamie McGinn has been mentioned for his strong play and was part of the playoffs last year. Should Logan Couture get in a game or two before the team departs to Europe, it would seem like he would have the spot he managed last year in the playoffs.

That is 11 forwards. Presuming the roster will consist of 14 forwards, seven defensemen and three goaltenders (many think the Sharks will carry an extra netminder with their NHL allotted extra roster spot in Germany and Sweden), that would leave seven remaining forwards working hard for three NHL positions.

Those still in the mix include: Benn Ferriero, Brandon Mashinter, John McCarthy, Tommy Wingels, Frazer McLaren, Cam MacIntyre and T.J. Trevelyan. Each brings something different to the table and it may depend on what McLellan is looking for.

McLaren has skated alongside Mayers and Nichol extensively in the preseason and, with his 250 pound frame, has a nice game to go along with his ability to fill the peace officer role. Ferriero has some strong NHL experience from last year and, along with Mashinter and McCarthy, helped Worcester reach the second round of the AHL’s postseason. Wingels was part of two consecutive Frozen Four trips in college and has performed as expected, earning praise along the way. MacIntyre, a highly touted college free agent from last spring, has not been able to get in a preseason game due to injury.

“It’s exciting and an honor to be here,” said Wingels. “There are a lot of great players left here who can contribute to this organization. To be considered as a guy who can possibly make this team is exciting and humbling. There are a lot of guys on this team that work hard and the coaches notice that. If you can help the team they are going to take you.”

On the blueline, there are six players back who were playoff regulars. Among them are Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Jason Demers, Kent Huskins and Niclas Wallin. The question is, is there another Demers or Vlasic in the remaining group who will force the Sharks hand and take someone’s roster spot?

“The blueline is limited to the number of spots,” said McLellan. “You usually don’t carry more than seven, so it is a smaller pool. You get more of a chance to make it as a forward because there are 13 spots. If we feel one of our young defensemen can bump out a veteran d-man, we’ll find a way to make that happen.”

Those fighting for that right to be in the top six or stay as the seventh blueliner are Jay Leach, Derek Joslin, Andreas Lilja, Mike Moore, Nick Petrecki and Sean Sullivan. As with the forwards, each has unique talents they bring to the table. Leach has NHL experience and can fill the heavyweight role if things get out of control on the ice. Joslin is a well-rounded player who also spent time in San Jose last year, 24 games to be specific, earning valuable NHL experience. Moore provided a lot of leadership in Worcester during their late season charge in the division and toward the AHL’s postseason. Petrecki is a hulking first round pick from a few years ago who is finding his way professionally. The interesting one is Lilja as he is familiar with McLellan from the Detroit days, but has nothing but a tryout contract at this point.

“It’s three (more) days where you have the opportunity to show you can contribute and make the team better,” said Moore. “You want to just do your job. The fact that we’re all going to be practicing together, it does start to feel like you (could) be part of the team and that’s an exciting place to be. The last thing you want to do is change anything. You want to keep doing what you’ve been doing because it’s gotten you this far. You want to perform your best and play your game.”

In net, again operating under the premise of three goaltenders going to Germany, things are locked in with Antti Niemi, Antero Niittymaki and Thomas Greiss.

It will be an interesting battle the next three days with one practice and two games to make the final impressions. Who goes to Europe and who doesn’t still has a couple of steps left in the process, but it should be a fun final few steps.

McLellan noted that the selection of a new captain would not be prior to the team departing for Europe, but did not put a timeline of when the decision would come.

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