SAN JOSE — No, Friday night’s scrimmage to end Sharks development camp won’t have any impact on what the team will do when NHL free agency opens Monday.
At least, for a couple of hours, Sharks fans got a positive glimpse at what Team Teal’s future could look like.
Here are three takeaways from Friday’s scrimmage at SAP Center.
Chekhovich already making case
You might recall Ivan Chekhovich got a look with the big club last preseason, tallying two goals and an assist in a 4-1 victory over a prospect-led Anaheim Ducks squad. In his return to SAP on Friday, the Russian forward scored two of his team’s three goals and was one of the most dynamic players on the ice.
Really, the prospects in this week’s camp won’t have a shot at cracking the NHL roster until they participate in training camp in the fall. But Chekhovich already looks poised to make a case for himself.
Regardless of what San Jose does in free agency, the team no doubt will bring up young players to fill in for injured starters or simply to create more offensive depth. (Think about how many times Sharks coach Peter DeBoer shook up that fourth line last year.)
Look for Chekhovich potentially to be the next Dylan Gambrell, bouncing between the two San Jose clubs.
First look at goalie depth
Roy Sommer, coach of the Sharks’ AHL affiliate Barracuda, told the press Wednesday that one problem he won’t have on his team next season is goaltending.
On Friday, fans got their first look at the other goalies who are coming up the pipeline behind Antoine Bibeau and Josef Korenar — and if one of them is called up to back up Martin Jones next season, one of them could become a more familiar face to Sharks followers.
The name Sharks and Barracuda fans already might have heard a bit about is Andrew Shortridge, a 24-year-old out of Anchorage, Alaska.
Shortridge only played in one game for the ‘Cuda last season, but he’s coming off a stellar 2018-19 campaign for Quinnipiac University, where he registered a 1.51 goals-against average through 27 starts. He started the first half of Friday’s game strong before giving up the first goal and letting in two late markers.
Prospects Mike Robinson and Zachary Sawchenko also tended the twine, giving up a couple of goals apiece.
The Sharks had 13 players in camp this past week on a tryout basis. While they might not have entered with the most buzz, a few of them left an impression.
Forward Zach Gallant was, hands down, the most noticeable of them all during the scrimmage, with his mix of grit and offensive assertiveness. The OHL product from Peterborough, Ontario, opened the scoring and ended regulation play trading punches with Lean Bergmann before finding the back of the net in the shootout.
After practice Wednesday, Sharks director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr. said the key to a tryout player catching the team’s eye is to “just play their game.” If this is what Gallant’s game looks like on a regular basis, he could be a player who sticks around for a while.