San Jose Sharks Finally Add a New Face; Sign Free Agent Scott Nichol

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJuly 16, 2009

DENVER - NOVEMBER 08:  Scott Nichol #12 of the Nashville Predators warms up prior to facing the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on November 8, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Predators 1-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Last, but hopefully not least; the San Jose Sharks made a free-agent singing. On July 15th, the Sharks became the 30th and final team to add at least one new face to their roster since last season ended.

With the Sharks swimming thin at the forward position, general manager Doug Wilson added some veteran leadership to the fourth line by signing free-agent center Scott Nichol, formerly of the Nashville Predators.

The former 11th round pick by the Buffalo Sabres back in 1993 has been a solid energy guy throughout his career and has been extremely dependable in the defensive end in that role.

Despite being a -10 for his career, the long-time center has been +22 since the 2005-06 season where he has been an effective checking forward for the Nashville Predators.

For his career, Nichol has tallied just 44 goals and 48 assists for 92 points in 417 games. However, for an average 82 game season, Nichol's numbers come out to 18 points per year.

But on the same note, Nichol has suffered numerous injuries throughout his career, playing in 70 or more games just twice in his seven full seasons at the NHL level.

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Therefore it is difficult to pencil in Nichol for a certain amount of offense from the fourth line, but when healthy, will bring the Sharks some much needed experience on the bottom two lines.

Nichol has been a quality performer in the face-off circle and doesn't back down from anybody as he even got into a fight with Joe Thornton last season.

The intangibles that Nichol brings to the Sharks will be huge come playoff time. In 2007-08 he posted career numbers in shorthanded goals (2), plus/minus (12), and faceoff winning percentage of 59.8 percent, which led the entire NHL of those who took over 500 draws.

Unlike last season where the Sharks were forced to use players like Ryan Vesce, Jody Shelley, and Claude Lemieux on the fourth line, this year the Sharks will have a proven commodity in Nichol.

Having a superb face-off man in the checking role will be incredibly useful when the Sharks take on teams like the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks come playoff time.

With the combination of Nichol, a more experienced Jamie McGinn, and the up-and-coming enforcer Brad Staubitz, San Jose has the makings of a very feisty checking line.

Instead of wasting ice time with an over-the-hill Claude Lemieux and the terribly awful Jody Shelley, the Sharks can now go with a faster but just as tough and physical group on the bottom line.

Although this signing does probably mean the end for Jeremy Roenick who will most likely hang up the skates after a 20-year NHL career.

Roenick was trying to win his first Stanley Cup with the Sharks these last two seasons but after numerous injuries limited him to just 13 points in only 42 games, it is hard to imagine the long-time vet returning for another year.

With Nichol now in the fold in San Jose, the Sharks seem to be finally starting to fill out their roster.

A projected forward lineup may look like this:

Marleau Thornton Setoguchi

Michalek Pavelski Clowe

Mitchell Cheechoo

McGinn Nichol Staubitz

One more left wing to play on that third line instead of Jody Shelley and the top 12 forward group will be set for San Jose.

But for now, the Sharks' roster is beginning to take shape.