Sharks mailbag: Who will make the team?

Sharks mailbag: Who will make the team?
September 25, 2013, 6:00 pm
Share This Post

The battle to back up Antti Niemi is closely contested with one preseason game remaining. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN JOSE – The roster is shrinking, the preseason games are getting more intense, and it’s a little more than a week before the puck drops on the Sharks’ 2013-14 season.

Best guess - Does Hertl make the roster? (Bradley Ahrens @BradAhrens_19)

No question about it. There was little doubt he would make the team even before Raffi Torres got hurt, and now it’s a certainty.

Who are the new faces (not talking Tyler Kennedy/Hertl) who could make the roster? (Christian Gin @Christian_Gin)

The two players getting the most attention are forwards Freddie Hamilton, 21, and Matt Nieto, 20. Hamilton spent the entire season in Worcester in 2012-13, and although he doesn’t have the offensive upside of Nieto, he may have an edge in that he’s the more defensively responsible player at this point. He’s also got more size than Nieto, something the Sharks value. Hamilton has more pro experience, as Nieto only joined Worcester late last season after wrapping up at Boston University.

Nieto’s best asset is his speed, and that was on full display on Tuesday against Vancouver. The 5-for-11 forward skated on the wing with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels, which would suggest the coaching staff is looking at him as a potential replacement for Torres.

I expect to both of them play NHL games at some point this season. Whether that happens in October, or later on, is to be determined.

Who's the front runner so far in being Antti Niemi's back up this season: Alex Stalock or Harri Sateri? (Andy @BleedingTeal)

I still say that Stalock is the guy the Sharks have in mind, based on him being older and more experienced and that his numbers in the minors are just flat-out better than Sateri’s. Stalock acted as Niemi’s backup on Tuesday night, too, in what was a very good lineup for Todd McLellan. Both goaltenders will get more playing time in the final two preseason games, and it’s probably still Stalock’s job to lose.

Which @SanJoseSharks player is going to have a better-than-expected season this year? (Luke Volden @LukeVolden)

I suppose it depends who’s doing the expecting. If we’re talking on a national level, Tyler Kennedy is as good a choice as anyone. I’m still surprised he fell out of favor in Pittsburgh. I saw plenty of him during my days in Philly, and he always seemed to have his nose in the middle of the action or was scoring a big goal. He already looks like a huge upgrade to the top six over TJ Galiardi, and probably feels like he has something to prove after he was a healthy scratch in the playoffs last spring.

Will Anthony Stewart make the team? (Anthony Sanchez @changot97)

Hard to say. I thought it was telling that it was Nieto, Bracken Kearns, John McCarthy and Matt Pelech all played on Tuesday against Vancouver rather than Stewart. I would think if the organization really wanted to get a good look at him, he would have been in there, especially after the Torres news came down.

Stewart will probably play in at least one more preseason game for the Sharks, and it might be one final chance to impress. Right now, I’d consider it very doubtful he’ll be in the opening night lineup. Keep in mind, he could always sign a two-way contract and start the season in Worcester, too. If he did, that would put the Sharks at the NHL maximum of 50 contracts.