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  • Writer's pictureHWH

Line-by-line: San Jose Sharks Training Camp Predictions

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

The Shuffle

The San Jose Sharks training camp begins on September 22nd, and the Sharks media recently released the above roster. The roster includes 34 forwards, 19 defenseman, and 8 goaltenders. An NHL roster will include 13-14 forwards, 7-8 defenseman, and 2-3 goaltenders, with a max of a 23 skater roster. So the long and short of it is, there's some work to be done, some players/prospects to be reassigned, and some shuffling to occur. Who stays and who goes, and more importantly, where are they going? We're going to take a stab and predict it. Let's break it down line-by-line down the depth chart. It should be noted that this is very likely not going to be the lines either the Sharks or Barracuda line up with, although some may be. This is a depth chart overview but this felt like the easiest way to discuss everyone. I'll list the depth chart first, then make some lines after that make sense for both the Sharks and Barracuda.


 

Depth Chart

Predicted to start in NHL

Predicted to start in AHL/ECHL

Predicted to start in minors/Europe/elsewhere

Predicted to not remain in organization


Left Wing (12)

Center (11)

Right Wing (11)

​Meier

Hertl

Barabanov

Eklund

Couture

Labanc

Lindblom

Bonino

Kunin

Gregor

Sturm

Lorentz

Nieto

Bordeleau

Reedy

Viel

Weatherby

Svechnikov

Gadjovich

Robins

Veronneau

Agozzino

Russell

Coe

Gushchin

Wiesblatt

Raska

​Suess

McCue

Cardwell

Hamaliuk

Liwiski

​Johnson

Gilmartin


Left Defense (10)

Right Defense (9)

Ferraro

Karlsson

Vlasic

Benning

Simek

Nutivaara

Megna

Merkley

Kniazev

Knyzhov**

Cicek

Hatakka

Pouliot

Holway

Harrington

Onyebuchi

Furlong

Mayer

Guryev

**Knyzhov is out with injury but still on the TC roster

Goalie (8)

James Reimer

Aaron Dell

Strauss Mann

Zachary Emond

Benjamin Gaudreau

Mason Beaupit


 

The Lines: Sharks Edition

Forwards:


Line #1: Meier - Hertl - Barabanov


This specific line has a high likelihood to actually play on opening night. Barabanov has been an interesting player throughout his 1.5ish years in SJ. Productive, sure, but sometimes viewed as a passenger on his line. There are games when he seems more engaged, battles harder, and utilizes his quickness and smarts to connect pucks to players. Other times, meh. He's almost always been productive next to Hertl, and with Hertl's recent contract extension, I suspect the passing of the torch of #1C from Couture to Hertl begins this season if it hasn't already. Meier is in for a big year. After setting career highs in goals, assists, points, number of 5 goal games in a season, Meier is in a contract year in 2022-2023. He's due for a 10 million dollar qualifying offer to keep his RFA rights, or the Sharks can sign him to a longer term deal before then. I suspect a similar deal to Tomas Hertl's 8x8.13M extension gets done sometime around Christmas. But hey, that's just a guess.


Line #2: Eklund - Couture - Labanc


Ah Labanc. What are you? Labanc was one of my favorite junior players for the Sharks in quite awhile. I watched his come up through the OHL, the AHL, and the NHL all the way through. He's always had an excellent handle on the puck, with great vision and passing touch that gave me hope that he'd turn into an everyday 2nd line playmaking winger. Inconsistency, a lack of a good physical game, defensive lapses, and a shoulder injury later, and Labanc is a bit lost in the Sharks organization. Not good enough to really stick in a top 6 for very long before being demoted for a lazy penalty or a defensive lapse, and not bad enough (plus too expensive) to move on from. I think he starts in a top 9 role this year, simply for the lack of scoring talent from the right side in the Sharks organization. Hopefully he has regained some of his form, because these last two years of his contract may be painful if not.


Eklund seems ready. After dominating in 2 games at the Sharks rookie faceoff, including the spin-o-rama to drown the Ducks in OT, I think he's progressed quite a lot. He seems stronger on the puck, skating with more authority towards the net. He's still got the patented quickness on his feet, dekes, and spins to beat defenders. But now he's not as interested in taking the puck into the corners and getting out of high danger areas. I'm guessing he dominates training camp, and forces the Sharks to keep him. He's a top 6 forward in this system in terms of talent, and having a mentor like Couture stapled to him wouldn't be such a bad thing. If you haven't checked out the Eklund video I'll provide a link...nah screw it let's put it right below this.



Line 3: Lindblom - Bonino - Kunin


Now that ain't half bad is it? Gone are the days of starting Danil Yurtaikin and Lean Bergmann in the top 9 to start the year. Mike Grier went out and acquired some actual third line scoring talent in Lindblom and Kunin. Were they expensive? Somewhat. Both are making over 2 million, and Kunin cost John Leonard and a 3rd to get. It'll be interesting to see if shoring up the bottom six really changes the outcome here for the Sharks, or if the loss of Burns outweighs it. Bonino is in the last year of his deal for the Sharks, and if out of the playoffs, I have a sneaking suspicion that he's going to a contender with half retained for a 4th rounder. However in the meantime he should center a solid and productive third line for the Sharks


Line 4: Gregor - Sturm - Lorentz


Continuing the theme of not half bad, this fourth line is actually...good. Gregor has great speed, aggressiveness and is dangerous against lower competition. He's likely to bounce all around the lineup as needed or as players falter because of his versatility. Needs to work on putting the puck in the net, but maybe this is the year. Sturm was an interesting acquisition because he felt sort of like what the organization was trying to develop Weatherby into. Defensively responsible, faceoff winner, solid 4th line center. If he maintains his decent form from last year, I suspect he's going to keep this job for quite awhile. Lorentz was acquired from the Burns trade, and all reports call him a serviceable checking forward. He'll likely rotate out with a few of the guys below.


Line 5 (extras): Nieto, Viel


Nieto is in the same boat as Bonino, in that I think he gets dealt at the deadline if the Sharks are not in a contending spot, likely for a 6th. He's a decent penalty killer and checking guy, but doesn't really move the needle either way for a team. Still though he would get claimed off waivers I would bet, and there's no reason that he should lose his spot when his role is so specialized. Viel I think wins the punchout between himself and Gadjovich for the fighter that stays up with the Sharks. In my viewing of both players, Viel has moments when he actually can connect plays and push play, whereas Gadjovich is kind of just there.

Defense:


Line 1: Ferraro - Karlsson


Well we're already starting off with a meh. Ferraro isn't a top 2 LD. I don't think he'll ever become one. He's a good second pairing LD, but he's likely the only option to play the toughest minutes for the Sharks this season. He just doesn't have much to his game other than aggressiveness in cutting off rushes and good retrieval in the corners. His offensive instincts are not refined enough to connect long passing plays or breakouts. He's often only involved in rush scenarios as a shooting option as a trailer. At this point it's admirable how far he has come, and again I think he's a top 4 LD on a contending team, but we saw how disastrous it was last year to play him above his station. Karlsson is in a similar boat, as there is no possible way to field a Stanley Cup contending team with him as your first pairing guy. Full stop. He's not good enough defensively to carry you through any rounds of the playoffs if he is playing the toughest minutes, especially as the offense continues to wane. I do think he picks up some point production this year simply because of all the lost puck touches from losing Burns, but I cannot get this really bad taste in my mouth about him this upcoming year as "the guy".


Line 2: Vlasic - Benning


That's a joke right? That's the third line right? Oh. Oh shit. Yeah if there was ever an Achilles heel for the Sharks it's having Vlasic slotted as your 2nd best LD. I mean, he's probably going to alternate between 2nd pairing, 3rd pairing and bench throughout the season so there's that I guess. Maybe Nutivaara is here to start the year? Who knows. Benning has always been fine, and he as well could be replaced by other defensemen. Once both your 2nd line defenseman are considered replaceable though, you know your defense is in trouble.


Line 3: Nutivaara - Merkley


I think Merkley makes the team. I know there's some issues with numbers here as one of Megna/Simek has to be waived or moved to make that happen, but I just don't see a way that Merkley isn't on this team. He's the only defenseman on the roster who can probably crack 25 points besides Karlsson, or Ferraro if he gets lucky. I don't see a way the powerplay can function with just Karlsson as the only defenseman who can walk the line and cycle the puck. Merkley has many, many warts to iron out, but losing Burns means he has to be given the opportunity to take some of his offensive responsibilities, or you move on from him.


Nutivaara is a defenseman.


Line 4 (extra): Simek


Simek is a defenseman that makes too much money.


Goalies:


James Reimer and Kaapo Kähkönen


It's a solid tandem. I suspect Kaapo starts to get more of the starts later on in the year, as it seems to be that the Sharks view him as the long term starter. Reimer was admirable last season, and arguably the Sharks MVP for keeping the afloat for so long. He may go to a contending team if he maintains his form this year and the Sharks start to struggle. He's worth as least a 3rd, possibly a 2nd for a team really needing some goalie depth. I'm excited to the carousel this year, as the goalie position for the Sharks has been shored up over the past 2-3 years to have depth at all levels.


The Lines: Barracuda/Others Edition


Forwards:


Line 1: Svechnikov - Bordeleau - Reedy


This one is contingent on Svechnikov clearing waivers, which is I'd say probable if waived when the mass of waived players occurs. He was actually pretty solid last year for the Jets, finally playing a full NHL season and gathering 19 points. The absolute glut of forwards for the Sharks means that I think he gets sent down in favor of Viel or Nieto given their specialties. Reedy is in a similar boat, but is waivers exempt. I think he gets a chance to play with some skilled Barracuda players and really hone his net-front and shooting skills, which appears to be how he's going to make his money going forward. Bordeleau starts in the AHL but is one of the first callups as needed for skill players due to injury. He's progressed very well over the past year, and had a dominant U20 tournament just a few weeks ago. There's a video on him too that I'll provide a lin-



Line 2: Agozzino - Weatherby - Veronneau


The Barracuda are going to be fun. These lines are all going to jumble as the season progresses, but this seemed like a good fit. Veronneau was a top scorer in the SHL last season, and it's certainly possible he contends for a Sharks roster spot. I've seen very little of him to give odds on that though. He's also waivers exempt which tells me that they'd want him starting with the super-Cuda and see what they have. Weatherby is going to be a staple for the top two lines on the Cuda I think given his position and his strong play last year. Again I think the Sharks are hoping he turns into an everyday fourth line center, and more AHL time can't hurt for that role. Agozzino is a top AHL scorer with great AHL seasons going back to 2012. He'll help provide veteran presence and scoring consistency in this young forward corps.


Line 3: Gushchin - Robins - Coe


Alright this one is a bit of a pipe dream for me. I have profiled all three of these players on my Youtube channel, and all three come with excellent skill. They're all inexperienced at playing against men, except for Coe's shortened AHL season during COVID, so I don't think they'll be starting on the top line for the Cuda right away. Robins has a sneaky good shot, that will get utilized on the powerplay I'd suspect. Coe will float up and down the lineup, but needs to learn some consistency with his physical play before challenging for an NHL job. Gushchin is a wildcard. The dude has so many great qualities that project to the NHL, but there's simply no way of knowing how he will do in this environment against bigger competition until he does the damn thing. I love this line because it blends excellent shooting skills from Gushchin and Robins, excellent passing skills from Coe, excellent puck carrying from Robins and Gushchin, and each player has no obvious offensive deficits.


Line 4: Suess - Russell - Wiesblatt


Wiesblatt might be moved up to Coe's spot depending on how the Cuda wants to play off the Russell and Coe teammate angle. Russell/Wiesblatt I think get converted to a center depending on the line given just how many wings there are vs. centers in the organization. From my watching of Wiesblatt I didn't mind him at center, even if many aspect of his game didn't seem pro ready to me. He'll need time to develop an offensive game, or he may just decide to turn into a pest given his proclivity for physical play. Suess provides some solid depth but may be a scratch depending on who is healthy.


Line 5 (extras/ECHL): Gadjovich/Raska/Hamaliuk/Johnson


Of the extras, I think Gadjovich and Raska both see regular minutes on a Cuda line, it's just a matter of when and where. Gadjovich has a history of scoring in the AHL, so I would imagine he gets some extended looks while others like Suess and Russell sit to make that happen. Raska is a fan and organizational favorite, so he's also going to get time to continue to refine his physical pesty play. Hamaliuk and Johnson may be ECHL bound or healthy scratches on most nights.


Line 6 (minors/out): Gilmartin/McCue/Cardwell/Liwiski


Of the bunch here, Cardwell is the saddest to see go back. He's a great puck retriever with good speed and smart defensive play. He has an inconsistent offensive game focused on short passes and transition. He's pesty and fun, and if it weren't a numbers game on the Cuda, I think he could remain with the team. I just don't see the way for him to get effective minutes, and going back to the OHL for one more season would do him well to solidify an already pro-type game. Gilmartin and McCue need to have big seasons for London. They spent the majority of last year on the 2nd or 3rd lines and produced barely above 0.5PPG. Both have some skill, although McCue shows his more often. Gilmartin is trying to develop a power forward type game but is missing the puck skills to effectively evade pressure. He hits well and can grind as a fallback. Liwiski unless he has an absolute monster camp I don't think gets signed from his TO just from a numbers perspective.


Defense:


Line 1: Megna - Hatakka


Megna might get claimed. He's a solid NHL/AHL defenseman, but even if he does, the Sharks have a fair amount of LD to incorporate here. Hatakka plays both sides despite being left handed, but I suspect will play the right most nights given the lack of organizational depth. Hatakka may find his way onto the NHL roster some nights if injuries occur, as he continues his ultimate quest to being the quietest third pairing defenseman the world has ever seen.


Line 2: Kniazev - Pouliot


Pouliot is exactly the type of defenseman the Barracuda needed last year. Solid, steady and with a bit of scoring. He's had NHL experience, but is only on an AHL deal for next year. Kniazev showed out during the rookie tournament, and continues his quest to being the loudest 3rd pairing defenseman the world has every seen.


Line 3: Cicek - Onyebuchi


This is a fun line. Cicek probably plays higher in the lineup depending on who is up with the NHL club, as he developed into a leader for the Barracuda last season, one of the few bright spots on a horrific defense. Montana is continuing his ultimate quest to be the funnest AHL defenseman the world has ever seen.


Line 4 (extras/ECHL): Holway/Harrington


Holway may get more looks just by being right handed, but probably just in for Montana. Harrington is on a PTO and I think he gets a 2-way deal, clears waivers and ends up on the Cuda somewhere. He's a solid defenseman that can provide depth anywhere on the squad with his prior NHL experience.


Line 5 (minors/out): Furlong/Guryev/Mayer:


Furlong to me looked the most impressive of the defensemen not named Merkley or Kniazev. I think he has a long road to go, but if he continues to develop his ability to stand up players at the blueline and get better at a transition game, he could develop into a player. He'll have ample time at Halifax next year to be their #1. Guryev continues his ultimate quest in the OHL to be the hittiest minor league defenseman the world has ever seen. Mayer seemed fine during the rookie faceoff but took some penalties that were ill-advised. I suspect he won't be signed from his TO but who knows, the Cuda may want some more depth.


Goalies:


Dell/Mann/Mäkiniemi/Emond


After watching Mann just dominate the prospect tournament, then the rookie tournament, I suspect he's going to continue to impress in training camp. The guy is a fighter, with sound positioning, consistent play and a calming presence in net. He's likely going to be the starter for the Barracuda, but to be honest I'm pretty hyped up about him as a prospect. He's missing ideal size but he may not need it. Eetu is an unknown after an excellent AHL season last year for Carolina, and then injury. He comes with high praise from Carolina fans, and appeared to be a sticking point for Grier for the Burns deal. I have a sneaking suspicion this is Emond's last year in the Sharks organization, and will be in the ECHL for the majority of the year. He hasn't developed at all since signing his ELC. Dell is going to continue his quest to be the NHL-AHL tweeniest goalie the world has ever seen.


Gaudreau/Beaupit


There's an odd phenomenon with Gaudreau. He's pretty good at making highlight reel saves, and can really dial in sometimes to steal games at the OHL level. But a combination of untimely goals allowed, and being a bit weak down low means his projection isn't as high as it once was. We'll see if another year in the OHL does him good. Sarnia wasn't the best place to be a goaltender last year, but we'll see if an improved-ish roster and Gaudreau himself can improve their standings. I do think some of the draft hype is slowly wearing off, and hopefully his upcoming invite to the U20s in winter helps boost his stock. Beaupit has been a pleasant surprise. Also on a bad team last year, his size and athleticism certainly are intriguing. He covers down low well, but can get beat up high by leaning too much in the crease. He's not the best puck handler yet, neither is Gaudreau, but that'll come with time. It'll be fun to watch both in juniors this year as the Sharks continue their ultimate quest to be the pipeliniest goalie pipeline in the NHL.


 

That's it! That's all of them I think. I'll be posting more updates throughout training camp of interesting things, but for now I hope you all enjoyed. Be sure to check out the Youtube channel for more prospect breakdowns. Sign up here to post comments, interact with articles, and ultimately to view exclusive content that is to be released only to site members. Don't worry it is free. If you're interested in writing about prospects, camps, teams or anything NHL, sign up and shoot me a message. Also free. We're looking to grow this site with as many smart hockey opinions as possible so don't be shy.


That's all for now!


-HWH









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