The Sharks added two pieces to their stockpile of goaltending talent today as Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced the re-signing of Group II restricted free agent goaltender Thomas Greiss
and the addition of Group III unrestricted prospect Henrik Karlsson from Sweden to the team’s stable.
Sharks fans have watched Greiss ply his trade in the team’s North American development system for the past three seasons and this may be the year Greiss gets an extended taste of NHL action.
“Thomas has worked hard since coming to North America and we really like where his game is at,” said Wilson. “He had a great year last season and was able to play in a lot of games. We think he is ready for the next challenge in his career.”
Coming off what could be considered a breakthrough season with the Worcester Sharks in the American Hockey League, Greiss played in 57 games for the Sharks top affiliate, posting a franchise-record 30 wins along the way (30-24-2). The native of Fussen, Germany also notched a 2.47 goals-against average along with a .907 save percentage and one shutout in the regular season.
However it was in the postseason where Greiss really shined. With a 2.43 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage, Greiss helped lead Worcester into the AHL Atlantic Division Finals. His two shutouts were tied-for-second among all AHL post-season goaltenders.
Entering the 2009-10 season, it would appear that the seat next to Evgeni Nabokov as the team’s second goaltender is there for the taking and it would not be surprising to see Greiss in Colorado on Opening Night.
Greiss has had several stints on the San Jose roster, serving primarily as the team’s back-up netminder but he has been offered only a limited amount of actual playing time. He has made three NHL appearances (all in 2007-08) with the Sharks, two as a starter.
His first NHL start was a memorable one. That came on Jan. 13, 2008 at Anaheim.
The Sharks came into the game as winners in their last 10 road games, which was tied for the second-longest streak in NHL history. One more win and the team would be tied for the best streak of all-time.
The Sharks held a 3-1 lead late in the third period but a Corey Perry score at 16:55 brought the Ducks to within one goal. San Jose continued to weather Anaheim’s late offensive storm but a bad break with less than 30 seconds to go would steer Greiss and the Sharks towards a disappointing ending.
From behind the net, defenseman Alexei Semenov attempted to clear the puck from the San Jose zone off of the boards but it was kept in by Sharks nemesis Chris Pronger. Pronger fed the puck to Doug Weight, who rifled a slap shot in the direction of the San Jose net. There, the puck again found Semenov, who was now parked in front of Greiss to defend the goal area, and it deflected off the inside of Semenov’s right foot, ricocheting past Greiss at 19:32. The lead for San Jose and Greiss’ first NHL win were now gone. Anaheim would go on to win the game with 33 seconds left in overtime, leaving Greiss with a only notch in the “OT” category for his strong, 29-save effort.
And the Sharks regulation road-win streak was snapped. The Sharks lost in regulation the following night at Phoenix erasing the streak completely. But it did not detract from Greiss’ performance.
He would also appear on Feb. 18 on Long Island when Nabokov was forced to leave the game due to a broken mask and head cut. “Nabby” returned and ultimately took the loss in that contest. Greiss was back in net the following game in a 3-1 loss at New Jersey.
Many feel Greiss is now ready to take the next step and establish himself as an NHL backstop. He has shined in his NHL preseason experience, posting a 2-0 record and a 1.45 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in 2007-08 but now he needs to prove his wares consistently at the NHL level. It appears he will be given that opportunity.
While fans are familiar with Greiss, new to the organization is goaltender Henrik Karlsson who was signed as a free agent.
Karlsson has played professionally in Sweden for the past several seasons and has been classified as a “late-bloomer” who could be an undiscovered gem.
Karlsson, 25, spent most of last season with Malmo of Allsvenskan in Sweden, where he posted a 2.45 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 32 games. In eight playoff games, he notched a 1.99 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. Additionally, in seven games with Sodertalje of the Swedish Elite League, he had a 2.49 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.
“We are very excited to have Henrik join our organization and look forward to his continued development,” said Wilson. “There were a number of goaltenders that we had our eye on this summer and Henrik was near the top of the list. Our guys really like him a lot and think there is a lot of potential there. We will continue to monitor his progress.”
The six-foot-six, 215-pound netminder is a native of Stockholm, Sweden.