A few observations, and even a few predictions from the first week of Sharks training camp…
1 – Yes, I know it’s preseason, but you couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Martin Jones era than a 30-save shutout in his first preseason game. More than one person I’ve talked to (none of whom is associated with the Sharks) has spoken about the 25-year-old goalie’s composure, and he showed no signs of being nervous in Tuesday’s 4-0 win.
2 – The social media reaction to Jones’ win was obviously positive in San Jose, but I got a pretty big reaction from some Los Angeles supporters, too. Seems like Jones was a pretty popular guy in Southern California. This is going to be a fun story all season long when these two teams meet. Anyone else ready for Oct. 7 yet?
3 – Jones wasn’t the only positive to come from Tuesday, as the Paul Martin-Brent Burns pair had a strong showing. Burns had one goal and one assist, Martin opened the scoring with a goal, and each was a +2 in more than 25 minutes of ice time. Those two have been attached at the hip from the first practice, and it’s already a virtual lock that they’ll be together on opening night.
4 – Pete DeBoer probably wasn’t too thrilled with the six minor penalties his club took, but the only one from a player that’s a lock to make the team was Joel Ward’s first period tripping minor. On a positive note, Burns -– who had 10 more minor penalties than any of his teammates last season, with 29 -– was penalty free.
5 – I was a little surprised that Alex Stalock didn’t enter Tuesday's game, considering he traveled on the two-game trip to British Columbia. It would have been easier for the Sharks to take three goalies, and have Troy Grosenick serve as Jones’ backup last night. I wonder if DeBoer originally wanted Jones to split time with Stalock, but changed his mind when Jones was playing well. I imagine Stalock will start Friday’s preseason home game against Arizona.
6 – One of the highlights for me was seeing Mirco Mueller get physical with Alex Burrows, after Burrows took exception to Mueller running over Jake Virtanen. There’s no question there is an edge to Mueller’s game, and that should serve him well in his blossoming career. That’s also an element the Sharks may not have enough of on their blue line other than Brenden Dillon. I still think Mueller will start the season in the AHL, but I loved seeing that mean streak come out in his game.
7 – The more I see Joonas Donskoi, the more I think he’ll make the opening night roster. He’s been ultra-competitive on the ice in practice, at Sunday’s scrimmage, and last night in Vancouver. Barclay Goodrow and Matt Nieto are two players that should be nervous if Donskoi keeps going the way he is –- particularly Goodrow, who I believe will start with the Barracuda. Keep in mind, too, that the 23-year-old Donskoi is older than the aforementioned 22-year-olds. This isn’t a teenager we’re talking about, it’s a guy with legitimate pro experience in Finland.
8 – It’s a little early to be talking about potential trades, but I can’t help but wonder if the Sharks will dangle one of their promising young forwards for help on the blue line if they either can’t find a legitimate sixth defenseman or suffer any injuries there. The 34-year-old Martin has suffered some pretty serious injuries in recent years, and after the top four and Dillon the Sharks have a stable of unproven players vying for NHL jobs. There's a chance that none of them are ready.
9 – Melker Karlsson has yet to skate in a full practice with an undisclosed injury, but he was apparently on the ice yesterday in San Jose with the players that didn’t make the trip to British Columbia. I’ve seen some questions regarding his eligibility with the Barracuda, and he is in fact eligible to start the season there. Still, Karlsson is on a two-year, one-way contract, so I'd be a bit surprised if that happened.
10 – Finally, one stat that stood out to me in Tuesday’s game sheet was Tomas Hertl –- who had a strong showing with a goal and an assist –- took 10 faceoffs, winning 8 of them. Hertl wasn’t ready to play center last season despite Doug Wilson’s wishes, but I wonder if DeBoer is considering playing him more in the middle in the preseason. If Hertl is truly stronger and healthier, perhaps the third line center role could be an option for him at some point. Maybe even on opening night.