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Shaping the Sharks: The Up-and-Comers

by Ann Frazier, Nickey Tygesen, and Gina Rodriguez /

While there are plenty of faces at Training Camp that Sharks fans recognize, there are some new players that might be a little less familiar. 

Whether they are draft picks making a push to make the NHL roster or a newly-signed free agent from Europe, these players are trying to make their names known. 

One, John Leonard, was a teammate of Mario Ferraro in college and has already been a standout. 

"I heard good things about him from our organization and he's proven them to be right. He is a skilled, smart player. Off the ice he is a very hard worker and, on the ice, as well. He's doing good things at the start of this camp. He's impressed a lot of people and we hope it continues." - Sharks Captain Logan Couture

"He is a very mature guy for his age. You could tell that once he hits the ice, he has great hockey sense. There's very few that can do it. Getting to watch him the last few days, getting to be around him a little, and learn about him; I think he has a good chance... you need young guys to come in and challenge for spots and to have that versatility, and I think John allow for us to have that." - Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner

Leonard, for his part, is getting used to his first NHL camp. 

"Try to be a sponge, try to absorb everything and learn as much as I can and prove myself as much as I can. That is just going to the rink every day and working as hard as I can and doing everything the right way on and off the ice." - Forward John Leonard

Another prospect, Ryan Merkley, has drawn praise from a potential teammate. 

"That guy has got some skill, man. He is really good. He's got a lot of upside. He is a smooth skater, he walks the blueline... he was walking the line like [John] Klingberg on Dallas, so he looks good." - Sharks Defenseman Jacob Middleton

The Sharks don't just get prospects from the Draft; they also have a tradition of signing free agents from European Leagues. Fredrik Handemark is the latest in a long line of undrafted free agents who hope to make an impact wearing teal. 

"My main goal is to battle for a spot here on the team. I am just going to try and play my best hockey here and try to make the team... It's been a dream for a long time to have the chance to play in the NHL. When I got the opportunity to sign a contract with the Sharks, I was happy" - Forward Fredrik Handemark 

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