As the season approaches, I thought I would look at players who I expect to or need to make an impact this year. I thought I’d start with new faces to the organization as well as cheat and include a player who could make his sharks debut after some time in the AHL.
San Jose Sharks brass has been on the record stating that Timo Meier was very close to making the team out of camp last year. Now it’s hard to argue with sending him back down to the QMJHL especially when you consider that many felt Mirco Mueller had his development path seriously damaged the previous year by being rushed to the NHL. An extra year in the QMJHL saw him have an excellent season as well as a trip to the final game of the Memorial Cup where they lost to the heavily favored London Knights. Timo Meier is not only in my opinion the best drafted Sharks prospect by a significant margin he also physically mature enough to be able to make an immediate impact on the Sharks roster. Even if he starts the year on the Barracuda I don’t forsee it being for much longer than 30 games before he is able to break through to the NHL roster for good.
Dan O’Regan spend the last four years playing college hockey at Boston University which is actually pretty uncommon for most NCAA players who are usually lured out of School to turn pro before they finish school. Because of NCAA rules the O’Regan has yet to attend a sharks official training camp and while he is no threat to make the Sharks this year he should be counted on to make an immediate impact on the San Jose Barracuda Roster since he has had an extra two years of development over new faces who will be playing in the Sharks Organization this year. (Chartier, Labanc etc…). While many point out that his best year came playing with American generational talent Jack Eichel his numbers last year had an insignificant drop without him.
Kevin Labanc looks to be another late round steal for the San Jose Sharks. Labanc was the OHL scoring leader last year for the Barrie Colts with 127 pts. (39 G, 88A). Finishing ahead of top prospects like Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner, Christian Dvorak and Matthew Tkachuk. While Labanc certainly has the skills to put the puck in the net he is a better playmaker and should be able to do great things with Barracuda finishers like Nikolay Goldobin or fellow new face Rourke Chartier. The defense on the Barracuda will likely be suspect but its group of young forwards could be amongst the best in the league.
Marcus Sorensen was one of the most impressive players at the Sharks prospect camp earlier this summer by many accounts including ours on the Pucknology Writers Room. Zachary DeVine a friend of the blog has tabbed Sorensen as the player who will lock down what appears to be the last roster spot on the San Jose Sharks forward core in an attempt to be the third straight player to join the team out of Europe looking to make a significant impact. While I definitely trust the opinions of others I give Timo the edge based on what I have seen with my own eyes so there is an amount of bias there. Regardless of which player starts in the NHL and who comes up as an injury replacement, the Sharks boast some decent forward depth entering this season.
While not a new face to the organization spending the last two seasons with the Worcester Sharks/San Jose Barracuda he has yet to play a minute of NHL time in his career. As the roster stands as of this writing you have to think that Dell has the inside edge on the job of backing up Martin Jones. While Dell has certainly earned the shot to take the job and a minor logjam of AHL caliber goalies in the system (Troy Grosenick, Mantas Armalis, and Jamie Murray) many Shark fans would still rather a proven backup as nightmares of Alex Stalock still haunt them. The thing is that should Dell not be able to run with the job the Sharks will still have goaltenders out there availiable to acquire relatively painlessly and they could further ease their logjam by sending a player to the ECHL’s Allen Americans since Joel Rumpel is no longer in the picture. Dell backstopped a very mediocre Barracuda team into the playoffs and was at times the only reason the series with the Ontario Reign was competitive.
Honorable mentions: Rourke Chartier, Tim Heed and Jamie Murray.