On Saturday, the players reporting to the Sharks Rookie camp will be in San Jose to take their physicals, double check their equipment and prepare for the start of camp.
Then they will begin crashing into bodies, stopping pucks, setting up teammates and scoring goals in an effort to further their NHL dreams.
The hitting will be internal for only two days as on Labor Day, the Ducks rookies will come to San Jose for three days of games. All games (Monday-Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Sharks Ice at San Jose) are open to the public and proceeds benefit the Jr. Sharks Scholarship Fund.
The rookie games initially began in 2005 as a four-team tournament between San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Now, San Jose and Anaheim’s rookies face each other for three days of contests that are treated as a regulation game in all aspects from a morning skate and pregame meal down to the running clock.
“I think the biggest benefit is guys seeing someone with a different jersey,” Vice President and Assistant General Manager Wayne Thomas said. “You get to see them play against their peers.
“They scrimmage against each other, but I don’t know if it’s a true evaluation of what type of player they are,” Thomas added. “When they play another team, you get to see their competitive levels.”
It’s rare when a player from the rookie camp will make the National Hockey League right away, but it has been done previously as Sharks fans recall with Marc-Edouard Vlasic
. Then there are players like former Shark Josh Gorges (now with Montreal), who became an NHL defenseman after being signed as an undrafted free agent.
“Gorges was an undrafted free agent and Vlasic was an underaged player who could have been sent back to junior hockey,” Thomas said.
Julien Demers and Nick Petrecki
are two such players this year who have been mentioned to fill a perceived roster opening on the blueline for the coming season.
There are many players in the camp who may not make the Sharks opening night roster this year, but who could be influential down the line or in another location within the organization.
“They are fighting for spots at all different levels,” Thomas said. “Some could have an opportunity with the big club. Some may end up with Worcester club or have to go to the Coast (ECHL, with Kalamazoo). Some are turning pro this year and looking for contracts.”
The Captain’s Practices had a mix of veterans and some rookie players skating, but that skate is akin to a glorified pick-up game without a high level of intensity. Beginning Sunday, every goal, save or deflection will have more meaning.
“All the scouts will be here,” Thomas said. “Everyone from San Jose and Worcester and the scouts who are out on the road. It’s a great opportunity.”
The rookie games will take place Sept. 7-9 at 7 p.m. at Sharks Ice at San Jose. Seating for the Anaheim-San Jose Rookie Games is limited to the first 850 fans. Admission is $10 for fans 13 and older and $5 for fans 12 and under. All proceeds will directly benefit the Jr. Sharks Scholarship Fund. Tickets will be on sale at the door on each game day beginning at 5 p.m. All games will take place on the North Rink.
“It’s great that this can also help out the Jr. Sharks,” Thomas said.
And maybe one of these rookies will help themselves to the NHL as quick as this year.
For a complete Sharks rookie roster, click here