It's that time of year again. A time where the youngest players in the Sharks system give everything they've got for the last couple times, trying to earn a spot on the Sharks 23-man roster. With just over two weeks left until the start of the 2005-06 season, Sharks front office personnel are getting ready to make some tough decisions.
A third round of training camp roster moves were made on Friday, leaving 32 players left on a Sharks roster that needs to be minimized to 23 before the regular season begins. Roster decisions are a lot tougher to make, especially when it gets down to the wire, but it's something that must be done.
For Head Coach Ron Wilson, there are a few minor things he's looking for out of the prospects trying to win a spot on the team.
"I'm not looking for anything real specific," he said. "Can you play? Do you have the skill set? Are you able to think the game at a high speed? The biggest adjustment most players have to go through is the increased speed at the NHL level."
Among the players were designated for assignment on Friday were 2005 first round draft pick Devin Setoguchi and Jamie Holden, a tryout player. Both players impressed fans in San Jose, as Setoguchi lit the lamp three times while in a Sharks jersey (two in the Pacific Division Shootout and one against Los Angeles on Sept. 18) and Holden surprised many with his solid play between the pipes.
"A lot of players have impressed me over the course of the camp," added Wilson. "I never get into specifics. You overlook somebody and I wouldn't do that, but we're pleased with the overall progress from most of our young players."
With 21 players in camp that were regulars in the Sharks lineup either during the 2003-04 season or the playoffs, some of the younger prospects may find it very difficult to crack the opening night roster. Among the prospects battling for a spot are Ryan Clowe, Thomas Plihal, Josh Gorges, Doug Murray, Matt Carkner, Steve Bernier, Lukas Kaspar and Josh Hennessy.
Four goaltenders remain in camp, but with one of the best goalie tandems in the League in Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala, Dimitri Patzold and Nolan Schaefer will be assigned barring an injury.
"Training camp has been great this year," said Wilson. "Knock on wood we haven't had any major injuries or problems like that, especially after a long layoff. Our players came in great shape and we're looking forward to getting real games going."