Checking in with a mailbag, as the NHL’s slow season is just about upon us…
Where/how do you see Pete DeBoer using Mikkel Boedker? (Tony Martinico)
I foresee Boedker in the top six, and my best guess would be on the left side of the Logan Couture line with Joonas Donskoi on the right. He could also get a shot on the Joe Thornton line, too, if the coaching staff is ready to give Tomas Hertl another chance at center.
I also think adding Boedker pushes Patrick Marleau out of the top six. I don’t see Marleau as a viable option on the Thornton line, and if Hertl takes over as the third line center, that further reduces Marleau’s role. Based on some of DeBoer’s comments throughout the playoffs, Marleau might not be content as a third line left wing, but he may not have a choice at this point in his storied career.
All that said, determining line combinations in July can often be a waste of time, as the coaching staff will surely tinker with them throughout training camp. There’s always the chance a young player or two will force his way into the opening night lineup, too, much like Donskoi did last season. Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen, in particular, may be NHL-ready.
Speaking of which…
How close are Meier and [Nikolay] Goldobin to making the opening night roster, and where do you see them lining up? (Josh Romano @JoshRomano_85)
Meier was the standout performer in the prospect scrimmage held at Sharks Ice on Tuesday. He potted a hat trick (including a penalty shot goal) and his size, hands and physicality were all on display. It’s early, but I have him penciled in on the opening night roster, especially after his strong performance in last year’s camp and his subsequent dominant season in juniors.
Goldobin I tend to think needs more seasoning, even though it does appear that he added some much-needed size from this time last year. He's almost certainly been passed on the depth chart by Meier, if not some other players – including, perhaps, Sorensen, who was just as good as Meier in the scrimmage, and at 24 years old could be this year’s version of Donskoi or Melker Karlsson.
A former fourth round pick of the Senators in 2010 - seven spots after Donskoi was chosen by Florida - Sorensen was signed as a free agent by the Sharks on March 30 out of the Swedish league.
Where does David Schlemko slot in? Next to [Brenden] Dillon? Or do you see the Sharks moving Dillon to open up a spot for [Dylan] DeMelo, or someone else? (Hector Estrada @hecteezy58)
I see Schlemko starting the season on the third pair with Brenden Dillon. DeMelo was signed on Monday to a two-way contract, so the club is probably set on defense, barring any major transactions. They have their top six, and if seventh-man DeMelo needs work, he can be reassigned to the Barracuda to get some games in.
There’s absolutely no reason, nor would it make any sense, for the Sharks to trade any of their current top seven defensemen. It’s a strong group, and can only be viewed as one of the best in the NHL.
Barring the signing of a goalie, who has the advantage between [Mantas] Armalis, [Aaron] Dell and Troy Grosenick to be the backup? (Tristan Weiss)
Gotta be Dell. The 27-year-old had a nice season with the Barracuda (2.42 goals-against average, .922 save percentage), and considering he was kept around in the playoffs as the emergency third stringer, he’s surpassed Grosenick on the depth chart. Armalis is still essentially an unknown, so he’ll need to show what he’s got in the AHL before he gets any consideration at the NHL level.
I can foresee a situation in which the Sharks start the season with Martin Jones and either Dell or Grosenick as the backup, and if need be, they could try to acquire a goalie midseason if neither of them is getting it done. Finding a viable veteran backup probably wouldn’t be all that difficult.
Do we see Mike Richards on the Sharks next year? (Nik @_wingoals)
Unlikely at this point since the Sharks are now tight against the salary cap, but he’s still a name worth keeping an eye on. DeBoer and Richards have a tight relationship, and have kept in touch since their days together in Kitchener. If Richards doesn’t catch on with anyone before training camp, he could go somewhere on a try-out basis. If it comes to that, it wouldn’t surprise me if it were in San Jose.