With training camp beginning in less than a month — and the Pacific Division Shootout staring on Sept. 8 — the biggest worry for the Sharks management staff is wondering if everyone’s flight will arrive on time.
Doug Wilson has once again secured the bulk of his roster well in advance of September. In fact, this year he has locked up every player that many would pencil into the 23-man roster. The lone exception is netminder Nolan Schaefer, who will have his glove-hand full competing with both Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala.
“I think Doug and his staff have done and outstanding job of getting everyone under contract,” said Sharks President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison.
As usual, Wilson directs the credit to his team and their agents for having the dirty work done ahead of time.
“Everybody will be focused and there will be no distractions,” said Wilson. “The players deserve a lot of the credit.”
Whether it’s team Captain Patrick Marleau
, current league MVP Joe Thornton
or versatile winger Mark Smith, everybody has their name on the dotted line making training camp a time for competition and chemistry.
Being signed is important, but there are other factors that can contribute to a success.
“The most important thing is for everyone to come to camp in the best shape possible,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson.
The Sharks won’t be aware of that until the middle of September, but they have historically found their players more than ready. Last season the Sharks won each of their seven preseason games. This season will bring more of the same as the majority of the roster will have skated at Captain’s Ice for nearly one week.
Up the middle, the Sharks have Marleau, Thornton, Marcel Goc, Smith and Curtis Brown. On the wings are several NHL regulars, including Jonathan Cheechoo, Steve Bernier, Mark Bell, Mike Grier, Milan Michalek, Ville Nieminen, Scott Parker, Patrick Rissmiller, Grant Stevenson and Ryane Clowe
The blueline will be deep as well with Scott Hannan, Kyle McLaren, Josh Gorges, Mathieu Biron, Matt Carle, Rob Davison, Christian Ehrhoff, Jim Fahey, Doug Murray, Garrett Stafford and Marc-Edouard Vlasic
battling for what will amount to seven or eight spots on the 23-man roster.
And the netminding duo of Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala has yet to be mentioned. San Jose’s roster will be difficult to crack this year, even for talented youngsters such as Devin Setoguchi, Marc-Edouard Vlasic
and Lukas Kaspar. But even with San Jose’s depth, one only has to go back to 2003-04 when Ron Wilson’s eventual Pacific Division champions tabbed a skilled, hard-working rookie named Milan Michalek for the opening night roster.
San Jose’s depth and skill level will make it hard for younger players to crack the rotation, but history has shown the Sharks will keep the best 23, regardless of experience or contract situations.
Now fans simply need to wait for September 15 to see how things start to shake out.