Sharks

Sharks

SAN JOSE -- There has been an overwhelming reaction to the Sharks' current group of promising prospects since training camp started back in September.

The offseason featured the organization boasting about how happy they were with the young talent coming up the pipeline. Yet at the end of training camp, the majority of those players were reassigned to the San Jose Barracuda. Since so few players have appeared with the big club since the season started, fans have been under the impression that not enough of these promising players have "stepped up."

But as Sharks' general manager Doug Wilson explained in an exclusive one-on-one with NBC Sports California, giving San Jose's crop of rookies enough time to develop at the AHL level is imperative.

"It was never a forgone conclusion that they would make the (NHL) team," Wilson said. "We look at this as a platoon system rotating people through."

New faces such as Lean Bergmann, Noah Gregor, and Jonny Brodzinski have rotated through the Sharks' lineup over the first month of the regular season as the team has dealt with injuries and suspensions. But even while filling roster spots for the NHL team, Wilson says the Sharks aren't looking to deviate from their game plan of getting the rookies plenty of work in with Roy Sommer and the Barracuda coaching staff.

 

"We've altered (our plan) a little bit with the suspension to Evander, injuries to Marcus (Sorensen) and other injuries that we have suffered," Wilson said. "But these young players are the key to our future. Roy, Mike Ricci, Evgeni Nabokov, Jimmy Bonneau, Michael Chiasson -- what they do is tremendously important to make sure the players are ready to play on a regular basis. And then when they come up, they get put in roles that they can succeed in."

When you look at how some of San Jose's most recent young guns have come up through the pipeline, it makes more sense as to why the organization isn't in a rush to bring any of their prospects up too soon.

"You take a look at our history, at Timo Meier's journey, Tomas Hertl's journey, Kevin Labanc's journey ... I think we do a really good job and we aren't going to alter that approach,": Wilson said.

Of course, it can't be left out that the Sharks do have one newbie who is impressing on the big stage. Rookie defenseman Mario Ferraro made the opening night roster and, despite the Sharks' rough start to the season, has visibly elevated his game with every opportunity he gets.

"Mario has played hard every night," Wilson said. "He reminds me a lot of when Radim Simek came in last year."

With so much season left, there's a strong possibility more prospects will get the chance to play with the big club as the Sharks need players to pencil into spots vacated due to injuries or suspensions. But in the meantime, they'll be getting plenty of work in at the AHL level so they'll be ready for the task of regularly playing at the NHL level.

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Bergmann, who has six points in five games for the Barracuda, is a perfect example of that kind of player.

"Lean plays with a high compete level and we know it's just a matter of time before he's ready," Wilson said. "But we want to make sure he grows as a player before then, too."