A mid-summer Sharks mailbag, as we all await the release of the 2013-14 NHL schedule...
Predictions on what the Sharks' forward combos will look like? (Don Goodspeed)
If the team begins camp with its current roster – a very good possibility – I think the only line that would be set would be a fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Adam Burish and James Sheppard. If we’re going to speculate on the three scoring lines, I would say Tyler Kennedy will go on the left wing on the Joe Thornton-Brent Burns line in place of TJ Galiardi; Logan Couture will center Patrick Marleau and Tomas Hertl; and Joe Pavelski will play on the third line with wingers Tommy Wingels and Raffi Torres. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Torres start on Couture’s line in place of Hertl, though, as that was an effective group in the first round sweep of Vancouver.
Who was the most impressive player on the ice during the prospects camp? (David Boettcher)
Unfortunately, only the prospect scrimmage was open to the public and the media, which I can’t quite figure out. Most every other NHL team opens its prospect camps to the public, and I’m sure a good amount of Sharks fans would have welcomed the chance to attend a practice. That being said, the scrimmage was a nice event, and hopefully it’s something they continue in years to come.
Forward Matt Nieto was the one guy who really stood out in the scrimmage, to me. He scored two goals, his speed was evident, and I get the impression the organization is pretty high on the Long Beach, CA native who just completed his sophomore season at Boston University. The 20-year-old, former second round pick in 2011 should be able to add some scoring punch to Worcester, which desperately needs it.
On defense, I was curious to watch Taylor Doherty, one of the few players Sharks scouting director Tim Burke mentioned in his media availability before the game. Doherty’s six-foot-seven frame is immediately noticeable, but beyond that, the 22-year-old looked very poised with the puck. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of those two players make their NHL debut in the coming season, perhaps as an AHL recall in an injury situation.
Will [Marty] Havlat be put on LTIR? (Andrew Pineda)
Yes. It’s a virtual certainly that Havlat will be placed on long term injured reserve on the first day of the regular season, freeing up salary cap space.
To be clear, though, that doesn’t mean the team will all of a sudden have an extra $5 million (Havlat’s 2013-14 salary) to play with in terms of cap room. The invaluable Capgeek.com has the detailed explanation of how placing a player on long term injured reserve is handled in regards to the salary cap. Here’s the link.
What do you think the Sharks still need in terms of players? Who's the most likely trade bait? (Jackie Klinck)
I’ve said in the past that I think the team could use another scoring winger, but I don’t expect it to add anyone else before the season begins. There aren’t any unrestricted free agents left out there that fit, either in terms of what they bring or what they would cost. Keep in mind that the Sharks are already technically over the $64.3 million salary cap, according to Capgeek.com, with Havlat still on the books for the time being. If they were to add someone now, they would almost certainly have to trade someone else.
As far as trade bait, it’s a bit too early to speculate since I don’t expect anything to happen until we’re a couple months into the season, at the earliest. It will depend on a combination of factors including individual performance, where the team is in the standings, and the overall health of the club.
Which team in their division should the Sharks be most worried about? (Jacob Mendelson)
Still the Kings. They have arguably the best goalie in the league in Jonathan Quick; a high-powered offense with guys like Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Dustin Brown; and a blue line anchored by the best defenseman in the division, Drew Doughty. They also have some solid up-and-comers like Tyler Toffoli and Jake Muzzin, who will only get better.
As for the rest of the division, Vancouver is still a threat, of course, and it will be interesting to see how the Canucks perform under new head coach John Tortorella and with Roberto Luongo the undisputed starter again. After winning the division in 2013, Anaheim made one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the offseason by sending Bobby Ryan to Ottawa for two highly regarded prospects and a first round pick.
(Quick reminder – the Sharks are moving into a new division with the Canucks, Kings, Ducks, Flames, Oilers and Coyotes. The NHL schedule should be released shortly, maybe even as soon as Wednesday).
Will the new realignment help or hinder the Sharks? (Erik Kuhre)
I’m not sure it will have a huge effect in the short term. I’d say the Sharks are arguably the second best team in the division as it stands right now, as none of the other six teams seemed to improve dramatically this offseason. Dallas, however, probably did, so the Sharks should be content they only have to face the Stars three times next season instead of six.
What is a "Sharknado"? (Christina Burlini)
I have no idea, but I think it may be related to a Shark-a-rita. Or, at least it should be.