Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Insider Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of NHL training camp.
Name/Position: Raffi Torres, left wing
Age: 32 (turns 33 on Oct. 8)
Salary: $2.175 million
Contract status: Signed through 2015-16 ($2 million cap hit)
2013-14 year in review: Last season was a nightmare for Raffi Torres. The winger was set to play in his first full season with the Sharks after signing a three-year contract extension in the offseason, but tore his ACL in a preseason game against Anaheim. Torres missed the first 57 games of the regular season, briefly returned to score five points in five games, and then sat for the final 17 games after the knee acted up.
He skated in all seven playoff games vs. the Kings as part of a very effective fourth line early in the first round series, but later said he was “skating around pretty much on one leg.”
2014-15 outlook: The nightmare continues. Torres will miss at least half of the regular season, again, after multiple infections in his repaired right knee. He is expected to go under the knife again at some point this month.
That being said, his absence opens up a spot in the opening night lineup. Last year, it was Matt Nieto who filled the void. Who could take advantage this year?
Here are a few candidates:
Tye McGinn: A familiar surname to Sharks fans, the club acquired McGinn, 23, from Philadelphia shortly after learning it would be without Torres again. The six-foot-two, 210-pounder has seven goals and three assists for 10 points in 36 career NHL games, all with the Flyers. He added 35 points (20g, 15a) and 62 penalty minutes in 54 games in AHL Adirondack. He hasn’t been able to stick in the NHL, but perhaps he can make the jump this season.
Chris Tierney: After Mirco Mueller, Tierney, 20, is the Sharks prospect mentioned most often as having real NHL potential. He led the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights in goals with 40, tying him for 10th in the league, while serving as team captain. OHL coaches voted the former Sharks second round draft pick of as the league’s smartest player, whatever that means.
Freddie Hamilton: He didn’t have a very good rookie year with the Sharks, failing to stay with the big club and not having much of an impact in his 11 NHL games. We covered Hamilton earlier in this series, but it’s worth repeating that this is an important year for the 22-year-old. He could make the jump to the NHL, or he could get passed over by other prospects in the system.
Nikolay Goldobin: The Sharks’ first round pick in this summer’s draft, Goldobin, who turns 19 on Oct. 7, will get a lengthy look in camp. He’s a long shot to make the roster, but as a left wing, he could adapt more quickly to the NHL than a center or a defenseman.
Daniil Tarasov: Tarasov was called the Worcester Sharks’ “best offensive player” by one veteran AHL reporter last December before he ran into some injury problems. The 23-year-old opened some eyes last year in training camp before he was reassigned, but is a feisty, show-no-fear type player than has some skill.