San Jose Sharks' Best Options to Replace Raffi Torres
The San Jose Sharks have only had a peek at just what Raffi Torres can bring to their franchise, and they will have to wait a little longer now.
According to the San Jose Mercury News’ David Pollak, Torres will miss at least one month with a right knee injury.
The 31-year-old journeyman played in 11 games for San Jose during the 2013 regular season, followed by five games during the postseason, before being suspended for a controversial hit on the Los Angeles Kings Jarret Stoll. It was Torres’ impressive play during the short period in teal that earned him a three-year contract with the team this offseason.
The Sharks were not the same in 2013 without Torres’ quick and physical play on the icefitting in perfectly with the direction in which San Jose would like to take their team going forward.
While it will not be an easy transition to start the season, the Sharks are used to playing without him on the ice, and there are several options with which San Jose can replace him.
Experience: Kearns, McCarthy, Stewart
The easiest route for the Sharks to take would be to replace Torres with any variety of veterans to play alongside Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture, and San Jose is clearly testing those options out during the preseason.
Although it would not be a move signaled toward the future, it would be a quick fix to plug in Bracken Kearns, John McCarthy or Anthony Stewart on the line. While "experienced" is a rather strong word for what those three forwards have been through, they have spent time at the NHL level—which is more than can be said for many of the Sharks prospects in camp.
Stewart has been the most impressive so far this preseason, and his repertoire seems to fit the role Torres left behind. Stewart would be most likely to land the spot if the Sharks go in this direction.
Test the Youth: Freddie Hamilton
Hamilton has arguably been the most impressive prospect in the Sharks system this preseason, although 19-year-old Tomas Hertl has all but been assured a roster spot.
It might be a good idea for the Sharks to test the waters on the 21-year-old, just to see what the team has in the pool of young prospects. While Hamilton may still be a year away from fully contending for a roster spot, he can certainly make a name for himself at the Shark Tank and join the Worcester Express in Torres’ absence.
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz has also thrown 20-year-old prospect Matt Nieto into the mix to replace Torres, but his game may be too raw for the NHL level just yet.
Shuffle the Lines
While the Sharks must inevitably add a player to replace Torres, they also have the flexibility with their lines to mix and match players how they choose. The mixing and matching could center on the youngster Hertl, who has played on a line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, as well as on the seemingly more comfortable line with Pavelski and Wingels.
Hertl netted his first goal with the team on the line with Thornton and Burns on Friday.
The Sharks have the option of moving Kennedy to the Couture-Marleau line to add even more speed, which would subsequently place Hertl on the Thornton-Burns line on opening night. It was a line Hertl looked very comfortable on with playmakers like Thornton and Burns.
With Torres, Todd McLellan seemed to want a more balanced attack throughout the starting lines to start the season. While that may still be an option, he has the flexibility to test a variety of situations early and often.
Follow me on Twitter @ScottSemmler22