I will be previewing all 30 NHL clubs. I'll be looking at their available salary cap room, the additions and deletions from the 2008-09 rosters, and where I think they will stack up in their division and conference for the 2009-10 campaign.
Let's get a move on with the San Jose Sharks, which play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference.
Last season, the Sharks changed their head coach. Gone are Ron Wilson and his entire coaching staff. The team searched for a coach that was part of a successful organization and looked no further than the Detroit Red Wings, where they found Todd McLellan and hired him as the franchise’s eighth head coach.
McLellan led the Sharks to the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top regular season team, and for him it was the third time in four seasons he was a part of an organization that was the best during the regular season.
As good as the Sharks were during the regular season; from October to mid-April has not been this team’s problem.
They made the playoffs for the fifth-straight season and expectations have been high in Northern California since they lost in the Western Conference Finals back in 2004. Unfortunately, for the fourth-straight season, an early-round exit has now forced the Sharks to re-evaluate the active roster.
After acquiring Dany Heatley Saturday from the Ottawa Senators, the highest-paid player in the organization is no longer Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau. Both players were stripped of their captaincy status during the summer and now their place on Team Canada for the upcoming Winter Olympics is also being questioned.
Their talent has never been questioned, but their heart and ability to perform during big games has taken a beating since losing to the Anaheim Ducks in the Conference Quarter Finals last April.
Compound that with another fairly huge problem facing the Sharks entering the season, and there are probably still more changes coming to the Sharks before the start of this regular season.
As of yesterday, the Sharks have approximately $690,000 in salary cap room available and only 21 players on their roster. The team’s AHL affiliate is in Worcester, MA, so it is not likely the Sharks would want to carry only one extra player on their roster. That would be a huge risk to take for a franchise looking to repeat at the Presidents’ Trophy winners from a season ago.
Let’s take a look at what moves GM Doug Wilson was able to make and see which players will be a part of the San Jose Sharks in 2009-10.
Some of the significant additions that the Sharks have made during the offseason are as follows: Joe Callahan (NY Islanders), Dwight Helminen (Carolina), Scott Nichol, and Jed Ortmeyer (both from Nashville).
On September 12, Dany Heatley was acquired from the Ottawa Senators for Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo.
On August 28, Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich were dealt to the Vancouver Canucks for prospects Daniel Rahimi and Patrick White.
Some of the significant roster deletions are as follows: Riley Armstrong (Calgary), Brian Boucher (Philadelphia), Marcel Goc (Nashville), Mike Grier (Buffalo), Lukas Kaspar (Philadelphia), Travis Moen (Montreal) and Brett Westgarth (NY Islanders).
Jeremy Roenick and Claude Lemieux have both retired as active players.
There are five former Shark players that have yet to sign deals with another franchise. They are: Brendan Buckley, Tom Cavanagh, Kyle McLaren, Cory Larose, Tomas Pilhal, and Alexei Semenov.
The Projected 2009–10 San Jose Sharks roster
The Sharks currently have 14 players under one-way contracts; eight forwards, five defensemen, and one goaltender. The three players that are on two-way contracts and most likely to fill out the roster come from a list of four forwards, two defensemen, and a goaltender. These players are:
This 22-year-old native of Taber, Alberta, is entering his third NHL season with the Sharks. The right winger was the Sharks’ first round pick (eighth overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. During his NHL career, Setoguchi has appeared in 125 games, scoring 42 goals and adding 40 assists for 82 points.
This 21-year-old native of Fergus, Ontario, is entering his second NHL season with the Sharks. The left winger was the Sharks’ second round pick (36th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. During his NHL career, McGinn has appeared in 35 games, scoring four goals and tallying two assists for six points.
This 31-year-old native of Omaha, NE, is entering his sixth NHL season, but his first with the Sharks. The right winger was signed by the Rangers as a free agent in 2003. During his NHL career, Ortmeyer has appeared in 230 games, scoring 13 goals and adding 19 assists for 32 points.
This 25-year-old native of Edmonton, Alberta, is entering his second NHL season with the Sharks. He was originally signed as a defenseman by the Sharks in 2005, but the team is looking to move him up to the wing on the fourth line. During his NHL career, Staubitz has appeared in 35 games, scoring one goal and adding two assists for three points.
This 21-year-old native of Dorval, Quebec, is entering his second professional season with the Sharks organization. The defenseman was the Sharks’ seventh-round pick (186th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
This 22-year-old native of Richmond Hill, Ontario, is entering his second NHL season with the Sharks. The defenseman was the Sharks’ fifth-round pick (149th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. During his NHL career, Joslin has appeared in 12 games for the San Jose Sharks.
This 23-year-old native of Koln, Germany, is entering his fourth professional season with the Sharks organization. With the departure of Brian Boucher to the Flyers, Greiss is the likely candidate to back up Evgeni Nabokov for the upcoming season. The Sharks selected Greiss with their third-round pick (94th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. During his NHL career, he has appeared in three games, recording one loss back in the 2006-07 season.
With these 21 players, the Sharks’ salary cap would sit at $57.4 million. If you take the bonuses off of the calculation, it would only give the Sharks approximately $690,000 in cap space.
Now let’s take a look at the top prospects that will be looking to make an impression on Wilson and Head Coach Todd McLellan.
This 20-year-old native of Guelph, Ontario, was the Sharks’ first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The centerman is entering his first professional season after spending the last four seasons with the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL. Based on his cap hit, it is most likely that Couture will start the season in Worcester.
According to Hockeysfuture.com:
"Couture displays a solid, two-way commitment to the game that originally caught the scouts' attention. He compared favourably to two-way stalwarts like Steve Yzerman."
This 20-year-old native of Schenectady, NY, was the Sharks’ first-round pick (30th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The defenseman is entering his first professional season after spending the last two at Boston College. Based on his cap hit, it is most likely that Petrecki will start the year in Worcester.
According to Hockeysfuture.com:
"Petrecki is a classic American defenseman. He has good size, he hits very hard, and he has a very heavy shot. Petrecki is a big, mobile defenseman, has NHL size, and is known for his physical play. He's a good skater who sees the ice well and can move the puck effectively. He has offensive skill, but has spent the last year or so working on his defensive game and positioning."
This 20-year-old native of Calgary, Alberta, was the Sharks’ third-round pick (91st overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The goaltender is entering his first professional season after spending the last four with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. Based on his cap hit, it is most likely that Sexsmith will start the season in Worcester.
According to WHL-based Sharks scout Brian Gross:
"Tyson had a solid season and playoffs for a young player, as he led his team all the way to the Memorial Cup. He is unflappable, he really hates to be scored on and lose, and he never blames his teammates. He was always in position for the first shot and never gave up on a play. He showed excellent technical skills and a great glove hand and he was strong physically."
This 19-year-old native of Toijala, Finland, was the Sharks’ fourth-round pick (106th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The goaltender has yet to sign his first entry-level contract, so look for Sateri to spend another season over in Finland.
This 19-year-old native of Gatineau, Quebec, was the Sharks' fourth-round pick (92nd overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The defenseman has yet to sign his first entry-level contract, so look for Groulx to return to the QMJHL and the Quebec Remparts.
According to NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards:
"Samuel was often used on both the power play and penalty kill units, showing good puck movement from the point and good body position in front of the net to prevent the opposition from gathering rebounds. He's at his best when he plays a simple, controlled style game, but needs to improve his overall strength and decision making."
Recap of 2008-09
The Sharks finished the season in first place in both the Pacific Division and in the Western Conference with a record of 53-18-11, good for 117 points.
The club had six players that broke the 20-goal plateau and they had 10 players in total that finished with double-digit goals. Last season, the Sharks were led by Joe Thornton (61 assists and 86 points) and Patrick Marleau (38 goals).
The Sharks' offense was seventh in the NHL with 251 goals for and defensively, were third in the NHL, giving up 199 goals.
The Sharks' powerplay was third in the league, clicking at 24.2 percent and they were fifth in killing penalties (83.3 percent).
Outlook for 2009-10
The seventh-ranked offense in the NHL from a year ago has lost 65 goals, but replaced them with two-time 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley. Now he is teamed up with two-time 90-assist, playmaking center Joe Thornton and most likely 31 goal-scoring right winger, Devin Setoguchi.
With a second line of Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, and Ryan Clowe, the Sharks will have a dynamic two-line offensive attack that most teams in the NHL would kill for.
Defensively, the Sharks are once again led by Dan Boyle and Rob Blake. The power play efficiency should match or even better last year with the addition of Heatley on the first unit.
Goaltending will be led again by Evgeni Nabokov. If the Russian tender can stay healthy this season, look for him to appear in between 65 and 70 games in 2009-10.
The only question I still have about the Sharks is what they are going to do about their salary cap issues. Many speculate that the $6.3 million cap hit for Patrick Marleau is the most likely to be moved. For a quality number one center, the Sharks should be able to get a couple of cheaper players and a pick, similar to what they gave up in the Heatley trade with Ottawa.
I foresee a first place finish in the highly competitive Pacific Division and I think they will finish second in the Western Conference.
On Sep. 14th, I will be reviewing the St. Louis Blues as I continue to preview each of the 30 NHL clubs. Look for my four-part article on how I would improve the NHL and my other previously published articles on bleacherreport.com.