With the Sharks reducing their camp numbers on Tuesday by sending six players to their top development affiliate in Worcester, there are now 29 players fighting to make the opening night roster for the Oct. 1 game in Colorado. Actually, the number is much as less as the likes of Joe Thornton
, Patrick Marleau
and Dany Heatley, to name a few, will be on the final roster.
The Sharks have brought in a few veterans to help strengthen their depth, but that does not mean they have a guaranteed roster spot over youngsters like forward Jamie McGinn.
In 2008-09, McGinn began his NHL career by playing in 35 games for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Sharks. He posted four goals and two assists in his limited time with San Jose.
Now his goal is to be with the Sharks roster for 82 games.
“The one thing I want is be here at the end of camp and to stay here all year long,” McGinn said. “I’m just trying to play hockey and do the things that got me called up last year.”
There are a lot of talents McGinn possesses that have put him on Head Coach Todd McLellan’s radar. However, with the depth, there still isn’t even a guarantee he’ll get to play in 35 games.
“I need to be an energy player and help us win,” McGinn said. “I’m not guaranteed a spot. I’m going to compete until the last day and stick to the game plan. I can’t control what the other players do, but I don’t want to give them a reason to send me home.”
McLellan has faith in McGinn’s abilities, but just wants to see them more regularly.
“I’d like to see Jamie McGinn more consistent this year,” McLellan said. “As the team evolves, he has to live up to expectations. We’re not looking at him as a younger player. He knows what he has to do. He needs to come in and take it up a notch.”
The Sharks top six forward spots will likely revolve among the same six players during the season, but that doesn’t mean McGinn couldn’t find room among that group on occasion if he makes the club.
“We’re looking at him on the forecheck and for him to create turnovers in the defensive zone,” McLellan said. “He’s a transitional player. He’ll be used on the penalty kill and the forecheck, but we believe he (can contribute) on the other side of the puck. He can be a utility player.”
McGinn potted goals in back-to-back preseason games, but that’s not his daily focus as he works to secure a roster spot.
“Those goals were just a bonus,” McGinn said. “The goals will come, but I need to be playing the system the coaches talk about.”
Since McGinn played with the Sharks last year, he’s not in awe when dressing in the same room with the Thorntons and Marleaus. That helps his focus, but he knows they’re there.
“It’s amazing (in your first camps) when you see guys coming in who you watch in your teens,” McGinn said. “You watch Thornton, Heatley, Blake and Boyle and they’re amazing players to be on the same ice with. They are great veteran guys who help the young guys.”
He also played under McLellan’s system last year.
“When you’re a new player coming in (it’s harder),” McGinn said. “You’re trying to learn the system and what new linemates are doing. It’s nice knowing the drills and what to do. We have high tempo practices and my experience from last year helps.”
Every day that McGinn sticks around shows that he’s doing what the coaching staff requests of him.
“You gain confidence with every game you play,” McGinn said. “I won’t feel completely confident until I make it and then the job is not done because you have to fight to stay here.”
NOT YET FELLAS
The reassignment of forwards Brandon Mashinter
and Logan Couture
and defenseman Nick Petrecki
wasn’t a slight on the players, but just another step in their development.
“They just are not ready yet,” McLellan said. “All three are very highly thought of and they deserve that. They can’t miss that middle step. Here the pace is quicker and the reads are faster. The best spot for them is in Worcester.”
The Sharks will visit Vancouver on Wednesday in a 7 p.m. contest and then play Friday night at HP Pavilion against Anaheim. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com