SAN JOSE –- If there were any doubts that the Sharks are dead serious about this season’s training camp being an open competition for roster spots regardless of past accomplishments, Todd McLellan offered a blunt reminder on Friday after his team’s 2-1 preseason loss to Arizona at SAP Center.
When asked about defenseman Taylor Fedun, a player that McLellan has mentioned multiple times as someone who has impressed him thus far, the head coach said:
“Liked him again tonight. I thought he and Mirco [Mueller] both did some really good things on the rink. Heightened our awareness, both of them, and improved their status amongst the club.
“The interesting thing [is], we’ll have some decisions to make. We often think of just keeping one, but maybe two of them or three of them can push some veterans out. When I look at the game in Vancouver, we had a couple guys there that were subpar, and if we have to make those changes, we will if the young D continue to play the way they do.”
So, who should be nervous? McLellan didn’t mention anyone by name, but he didn’t really have to.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Puck-firing Sharks fall to Coyotes in OT]
Among the veteran defensemen who played in the Sharks’ preseason opener in Vancouver -– with McLellan behind the bench -– were Matt Irwin, Jason Demers and Scott Hannan. Brent Burns did, too, but McLellan later praised Burns’ first game back on the blue line, and Burns was solid again on Friday against Arizona, skating up and down the ice for more than 24 minutes and generating a whopping 15 shot attempts.
Fedun, considered an unnecessary part by the Edmonton Oilers, of all teams, had 11 attempts on net and used his feet to get open looks. At one point while controlling the puck just inside the blue line, he faked a Coyotes defender right out of his skates in the high slot before lifting a wrist shot just wide.
“Unfortunately the sights were a little off today,” said the 26-year-old. “I had a couple really good chances I wasn’t able to hit the net on, but it’s good to be able to get into those positions to have the opportunity. Hopefully, next time they’re a little more on target.”
Fedun, who signed as a free agent with the Sharks on July 2, had his career derailed by a serious leg injury in the 2011 preseason that set him back “10 or 11 months,” by his count. According to some, he worked his way back to become the best defenseman on Oklahoma City’s AHL team last season, with 37 points in 63 games.
So far, he’s taking advantage of the chance the Sharks are giving him.
“The style of the game, it’s fit well for me. They made it clear that in camp that I’d be getting a good look to try and stick up here.”
They weren’t kidding.
“I guess the message is, it’s not just about filling in the one or two holes,” McLellan said. “It’s about some being pushed, and it’s going to be a fight to keep your job now. That will be a good message to some of the players that have been here for awhile.”