Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of training camp.
Name/Position: Chris Tierney, C
2015-16 cap hit/contract: $711,666, signed through 2016-17
2014-15 year in review: Chris Tierney made the opening night roster, but it was determined less than one month into the season that he wasn’t quite ready for the NHL and he was promptly reassigned to Worcester.
That was the right call, as the then 20-year-old got some much needed seasoning while playing big minutes in the minors. He was recalled for good in early February, and finished with 15 points (5g, 10a) in the final 21 games of the season as one of the team's most effective players. That includes a five-game point streak from April 1-9.
Believe it or not, Tierney led the Sharks in points-per 60 minutes at even strength with 1.89. Logan Couture was second (1.80).
After the Sharks missed the playoffs, Tierney returned to Worcester and tallied 1 goal and 2 assists in four AHL playoff games.
2015-16 outlook: Considering how he finished down the stretch last season, it’s a strong likelihood that Tierney will again be the Sharks’ third line center on opening night in Los Angeles on Oct. 7. He could very well end up skating with newcomer Joel Ward to his right depending on how the Sharks’ top six shakes out under new coach Peter DeBoer.
While Tierney seems to possess the size and skill to be an effective everyday NHL center he will have to improve in a few areas, including his faceoff percentage, which was just 43.9 percent. The advanced stats also suggest that Tierney spent too much time in the defensive end, as the Sharks had a -49 shot attempt total (SAT) when he was on the ice.
Still, Tierney has a high hockey IQ as evidenced by his "smartest player" award in his final year in juniors, and is still very much a work in progress. While Matt Nieto and Tomas Hertl have a bit more experience, Tierney may have as much or even more promise than any of the young forwards on the team. He’ll have to take the next step in his development this season, as will the others, for the Sharks to make it back to the postseason.