Answers to some Sharks mailbag questions on a Thursday afternoon...
Where does DouglasMurray stand with the Sharks?
At this moment in time Id say Douglas Murray is sixth or seventh on the Sharks depth chart on defense. Dan Boyle, Brad Stuart, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns will likely comprise the top four, with the two righties (Boyle and Burns) partnering with the two lefties (Vlasic and Stuart).
Justin Brauns place in the lineup is secure his recent three-year contract extension tells you all you need to know about what the front office and coaching staff thinks of his progress and potential. That leaves Murray and Jason Demers as the final two d-men.
Which goalie do you see as more likely to become trade bait this year: Antti Niemi, Thomas Greiss, Harri Sateri, or Alex Stalock?
From a hypothetical standpoint, of those four, Stalock and Niemi have the most value. Stalock is probably one of the better NHL goalie prospects still in the minor leagues, while Niemi, despite a down year last year, still has a Stanley Cup ring stashed away somewhere. Sateri and Greiss, while still young, wouldnt bring a whole lot in return.
If the Sharks are trying to upgrade their NHL roster, Stalock could be an attractive commodity to a team lacking young goalie prospects. At the same time, Niemis struggles last season probably give the Sharks that much more incentive to keep Stalock in the fold. After all, he did win his only NHL appearance late in the 2011 season (in relief of Niemi), and its not a stretch to think that if Niemi falters again this season Stalock could get a real shot at the main job.
Is Dominic Moore still on the table?
Id say theres still a fair chance Dominic Moore returns to the Sharks, but Moore has much bigger and more important things to deal with at the moment with his wifes illness. If Moore decides he wants to play this year, I wouldnt be surprised in the least if a phone call to Doug Wilson is his first.
Although Moore wasnt very effective after a February trade with the Lightning brought him to San Jose, I think back to what Moore said before his first game with the Sharks: If I could have picked one team to go to in the entire league, this would have been it, he said on Feb. 17. Im really excited to be a part of this group. Ive watched from afar for a few years now and this team has been one thats really impressed me for the last few years.
Even with the recent news that Michal Handzus battled a hip injury most of last season, Moore would be an upgrade to the 35-year-old Slovakia native as a potential third line centerpenalty killer.
Any word on Brad Winchester? Curious why his time on the ice was cut so drastically. I liked his style of play and would love to see him stay in San Jose.
I would be shocked if Brad Winchester returns to the Sharks, as the coaching staff seemed to sour on him late in the season. He certainly showed a tendency to stick up for his teammates and deposit a goal here and there with his underrated shot, but if the Sharks wanted him back, they would have gotten a deal done by now.
If you had to speculate on someone to "come out of nowhere" & make the Sharks roster (maybe a college free agent) who would it be?
This might not be a popular answer, and its not exactly an out of nowhere name, but I can tell you that the organization wants to give 25-year-old John McCarthy a real chance to make the opening night roster and have an impact next season in some capacity.
McCarthy has failed to leave much of an impression in 55 games with the Sharks over three seasons, with just two goals and two assists for four points. That includes 10 scoreless games this past season.
Why hasn't James Sheppard signed his qualifying offer?
Thats a pretty good question, since James Sheppard certainly doesnt have many options after not playing NHL hockey for the last two seasons. Doug Wilson has already said he expects Sheppard to challenge for a roster spot next season, and after San Joses willingness to take on the responsibility of Sheppards rehab, one would hope that Sheppard and his agent realize he doesnt deserve anything much more than the NHL minimum at this point (or whatever it is San Jose is offering).
For the record, Brandon Mashinter, Nick Petrecki and Tim Kennedy also have yet to officially sign after they were extended qualifying offers earlier this summer.