Sharks

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' Stefan Noesen dealing with extra uncertainty in coronavirus pandemic

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AP

Sharks' Stefan Noesen dealing with extra uncertainty in coronavirus pandemic

Sharks forward Stefan Noesen is isolating with immediate family in his home state of Texas during the coronavirus pandemic.

And he’s slightly bored.

“You can only do so many lunges at your house, so many laps around the neighborhood,” Noesen said with a laugh in a 1-on-1 interview with NBC Sports California on Tuesday.

The NHL’s suspended season is par for the uphill course of Noesen's current campaign.

It began with a professional tryout in the Dallas Stars organization, which didn’t pan out. He then played 22 AHL games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, which led to signing a two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 2nd. They waived him shortly before Christmas.

“This year has been a s---t-show, legit,” Noesen said. “Up until being with the Sharks.”

That turning point definitely happened in San Jose. Even during the Sharks' down season, Noesen came in and earned a role, plus the respect to go along with it.

“First thing I did when I got (to San Jose), was meet with [general manager Doug Wilson],” Noesen said. “He told me what he expected of me, which was honestly nothing but to go out and play my game.”

That game resonated, with Noesen scoring six goals in 34 games. And now, there's a lot of fans who would like to see him re-signed for next season.

“I’ve always believed it’s not that hard to be a good guy,” Noesen said. “All you have to got is be yourself, treat others with respect, and find a way to get along with everybody.”

[RELATED: Sharks' restocked draft picks, college signings offer hope]

There's a lot of uncertainty for Noesen’s career at this point, like when and where he will play hockey next. But these life-changing times have also even made him ponder what comes after the game.

“The world has kind of taken things for granted up until now,” Noesen said. “And I think everyone is kind of taking a step back and realizing the little things are actually important.

“The minute that we’re able to go back to whatever life is after this, I think it will be interesting.“

Sharks suddenly in better position with draft picks, college signings

Sharks suddenly in better position with draft picks, college signings

Given the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we could all use a bit of a pick-me-up right now. It's understandably difficult, but focusing on what bright spots there are will help us get through this unprecedented time.

Taking the glass-half-full approach shouldn't be new to Sharks fans. They had a few months head start before the team's disappointing season was indefinitely paused.

Yes, it was clear early on that it was going to be a tough season in San Jose. The Sharks dropped their first four games of the season, and turned to former captain Patrick Marleau to get back on track. After a strong November, San Jose undid it all with a putrid December, and at that point, it became easy to focus on all of the things the franchise didn't have. The most notable absence was that of hope.

One by one, the Sharks' best players went down with severe season-ending injuries. One of them -- Erik Karlsson -- was like a double punch to the gut. Not only would San Jose not have the benefit of having the former Norris Trophy winner in the lineup, but the cost it took to acquire him -- including the Sharks' unprotected 2020 first-round draft pick -- looked disproportionally painful. Every team in the league would have made that trade for Karlsson -- and signed him to the same eight-year contract extension -- but nearly everything that occurred from that point on was a string of bad luck for San Jose.

There was an upside to losing all of those top players, though. Whatever lingering hopes of a playoff run existed soon went out the window. The Sharks and general manager Doug Wilson could turn their attention to the future, and that's exactly what they did.

In sending Brenden Dillon to the Washington Capitals, Marleau to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Barclay Goodrow to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the trade deadline, Wilson overhauled the Sharks' cupboard of draft picks in both quality and quantity. He acquired four picks -- including a 2020 first-rounder -- that will fall within the first three rounds, and San Jose now has seven selections in each of the next three drafts.

Those will come in very handy as the Sharks try to get back into contention -- and stay there. Sustained success is built through young, controllable assets, and the draft is the best way to acquire them.

That said, there are always some prospects that fall between the cracks. Brinson Pasichnuk was one such prospect who was never drafted, yet became one of the best players throughout all of NCAA Division I hockey. The Arizona State standout agreed to join the Sharks organization, Wilson announced Tuesday, adding to San Jose's collection of promising young defensemen, including Mario Ferraro and Ryan Merkley.

[RELATED: Sharks' Ferraro moved in with parents during NHL pause]

Shortly after Pasichnuck agreed to join the Sharks, Hobey Baker Award finalist John Leonard did the same. Leonard, San Jose's sixth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, tallied 105 points over 106 career games at UMass Amherst. He had the option of returning to school for his senior season, but had little left to prove at the collegiate level. While he isn't a new prospect to the Sharks' system, it's nonetheless a positive development for San Jose.

Two months ago, the Sharks' future appeared as bleak as it had in nearly two decades. Since then, however, they've taken several steps in the right direction, and there is considerably more reason for hope.

We can all use a little of that right now.