Sharks

Sharks icons Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton working out in San Jose

Sharks icons Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton working out in San Jose

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau might not be on NHL rosters at the moment, but both are staying active.

Former Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff posted a photo with the duo from a locker room at San Jose's practice facility Monday.

Ehrhoff, 37, is younger than Marleau, 39, and Thornton, 40, but the German blue liner is retired and his old teammates seem to be gearing up for another season. Marleau and Thornton currently are unrestricted free agents, and both have said they intend to play in 2019-20.

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes in a salary dump earlier this offseason, and the Hurricanes bought out Marleau's contract after he informed the team he wanted to play closer to his family after they moved back to San Jose. He told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun that a reunion with the Sharks "would be a good fit for me for sure."

Thornton, meanwhile, told reporters at June's NHL Awards he wanted to return for (at least) one more season. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said earlier this offseason he would give Thornton "all the time he needs to make whatever decision's right for him," and his photo with Ehrhoff adds credence to the idea it's a matter of when -- not if -- he re-signs with San Jose. 

[RELATED: Why Sharks should, shouldn't retire Nolan's jersey first]

The Sharks have just under $4.7 million in salary-cap space with 11 forwards under contract, according to Cap Friendly. Both players made more than that last season, but Thornton made $3 million less than he did in 2017-18 and Marleau is owed just under $3 million from the Hurricanes after his buyout. Thus, it's conceivable San Jose has enough room to re-sign Thornton and bring back Marleau. 

For now, with just over a month before the Sharks' preseason opener on Sept. 17, the waiting game continues. But Ehrhoff's Instagram post is just another indication the two longest-tenured players in San Jose history intend to play next season. 

Why these four Sharks have high chance of cracking NHL roster in camp

Why these four Sharks have high chance of cracking NHL roster in camp

SAN JOSE -- Since hosting their prospect development camp in July, the Sharks have boasted about the players who will challenge for a roster spot at training camp. 

Now that San Jose's preseason officially gets underway Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks at SAP Center, we have a better idea of who has the best shot of making the NHL lineup. Here are four players with a good chance of breaking camp with the Sharks. 

Mario Ferraro, D

The 21-year-old defenseman has skated alongside fellow prospect Ryan Merkley in training camp, but don't be surprised if he gets a look alongside one of San Jose's veterans soon -- or in a few regular-season games. 

Ferraro has been putting on a show since development camp in July. Sharks director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr. went so far as to call him "one of the most high-energy guys you've ever seen. He does not have a bad day." 

Through both development camp and the start of the preseason, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst product -- who played college hockey alongside Colorado Avalanche blue liner Cale Makar -- has demonstrated a high level of physicality that could make his game very effective on the NHL mainstage. 

Plus, with Radim Simek still rehabbing, there's a chance Ferraro -- as well as familiar faces like Jacob Middleton and Nick DeSimone -- gets a look on the big club's blue line.

Antoine Bibeau, G

Some fans wondered if the San Jose Barracuda netminder would get a look with the Sharks last season when Aaron Dell had some hiccups backing up Martin Jones. After a promising 2018-19 campaign in the AHL, his chances of getting an NHL shot this season appear more likely.

Bibeau started two games with the Toronto Maple Leafs three seasons ago, going 1-1-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. While that isn't exactly a deep body of work, his AHL numbers in San Jose (.912 save percentage in two seasons) are enough to get the Sharks excited about his future with the organization.

Alex True, F

Like Bibeau, True was a player last season some thought would get a crack at the Sharks' roster. In his second campaign with the Barracuda, the 6-foot-5 Dane tallied 55 points (24 goals, 31 assists) and was a plus-16 in 68 regular-season games. 

While True has most recently been lumped into a group of young roster hopefuls including Ivan Chekhovich, Sasha Chmelevski and Joachim Blichfeld, the 22-year-old appears to be the readiest to make the leap to the NHL. Those other three still have very promising futures with the Sharks, but our guess is they'll see more playing time with the Barracuda first.

The Sharks have spots to fill at forward and could greatly benefit from adding a big-bodied scorer to their bottom six. If True continues to have a good camp, he could get an NHL look in his third season with the organization. 

[RELATED: Why Sharks confident they can make up for lost firepower]

Jonny Brodzinski, F

Although not as recognizable of a name as some of the names coming out of the Barracuda, Brodzinksi likely will get a crack at the Sharks' roster ahead of some of the organization's top prospects. He's only on a one-year contract, and he has previous NHL experience,

Through three seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, the 26-year-old Minnesota native scored 11 points (six goals, five assists) and a plus-6 rating over the course of 54 NHL games. He also tallied 108 total points in 156 games with the AHL's Ontario Reign. 

Given the aforementioned holes up front, playing a consistent AHL scorer like Brodzinski could make the most sense -- at least to start the season off. 

Tuesday night's preseason opener should prove instructive. Brodzinski has skated on Joe Thornton's wing in practice, and playing well there in an actual game setting should lift Brodzinski's chances of cracking the Sharks' opening-night lineup. 

Sharks counting on certain familiar faces to step up in coming season

Sharks counting on certain familiar faces to step up in coming season

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks know there are new opportunities on the table ahead of the 2019-20 season, and not just for the new crop of fresh faces that have entered training camp. Some more familiar faces have the chance to step up and take on bigger roles for San Jose.

The question now is: Are they up to that challenge?

Here are just a few players who have the opportunity to step it up big time ahead of the new campaign:

Tim Heed

The Swedish defenseman was one of two players last season who were tasked with filling in when Erik Karlsson and Radim Simek both came out of the lineup with injuries. Now, after inking a one-year deal with the Sharks over the summer, Heed has the opportunity to really make an impact.

Heed spent some time playing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic last year, a pairing that could be revisited now that Vlasic's former de facto partner, Justin Braun, was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. With Karlsson likely remaining linked up with Brenden Dillon and Radim Simek being paired back up with Brent Burns when he returns to action, Heed could find himself back on Vlasic's right side. 

But Heed isn't a shoo-in for the job. San Jose acquired right-handed blueliner Dalton Prout over the summer and has a couple promising young defensemen coming up the pipeline. How Heed skates over the next couple of weeks could say a lot about where he'll be in the lineup at the start of the new season.

Melker Karlsson

Speaking of Justin Braun, San Jose will miss his presence on the penalty kill. His absence affords players like Karlsson the chance to step up and help make the Sharks' kill as dominant as it was at the very beginning of last season. (Remember, even when the team wasn't playing particularly well, their penalty kill was still pretty darn good.)

But despite being a guy coach Peter DeBoer loves having as an option to move throughout the lineup, Karlsson still has to be better. His numbers have taken a bit of a dip over the last couple of seasons, and there is going to be competition within the bottom-six for a starting spot. 

Any kind of boost in Karlsson's game will help the team out.

Antti Suomela

After a couple of good games at the start of last season, the Finnish forward was reassigned to the AHL and had trouble getting things going with the Barracuda. When NBC Sports California caught up with Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer midway through last season, he said Suomela was still figuring things out.

“With him, the work ethic is there, and he has a big compete to his game,” Sommer complimented back in January. “I think he just has to figure out the North American game. Things happen a lot quicker here than where he was at. But he’s picking it up.”

With roster spots up for grabs this preseason, this is the opportune time for Suomela to put what he's learned on tape.

[RELATED: Why Sharks confident they can make up for lost firepower]

Aaron Dell

Not to sound like a broken record, but neither Martin Jones nor Aaron Dell played particularly well last season and that has to change if the Sharks are going to remain a threat in the West. Dell, in particular, has a prime chance this preseason to right the ship. 

As Dell told NBC Sports California on the first day of training camp, the previous season is in the past regardless of how good or bad it was. 

"You're only as good as your last game, that's kind of how it is," he explained. "They want to see how you are now and how it was then doesn't really matter. You always have to perform."

DeBoer told the press he wants to give both goalies the chance to get a couple of tune-up games in before the regular season starts. That being said, the team's netminding prospects will get a look at some point as well.