SAN JOSE -- The Sharks still have 42 players in camp after roster cuts on Tuesday, but were split up on Wednesday into two separate groups for practice at Sharks Ice.
One group featured all of the usual suspects that are locks to make the opening night roster, along with rookie Tomas Hertl and a fifth forward line of Matt Pelech, Bracken Kearns and John McCarthy. On defense, Matt Tennyson was one of seven blueliners (Brad Stuart has yet to skate in camp with a lower body injury). Alex Stalock and Antti Niemi were the goaltenders.
Head coach Todd McLellan said not to read anything into the breakdown, as both groups are having the same off-ice meetings and drills in practice.
“When you look at it you’ll say, ‘jeez, there’s a lot of veterans in this group, a lot of younger guys in the other group.’ We’ll pick our team out of both groups,” McLellan said. “You’ll see in the exhibition games coming up a blending of both groups.
“It’s going to be as much based on their exhibition play as anything right now. Just to be efficient in practice and work on things, get enough people reps and familiarity, we split the groups up as is.”
One notable absence from the mostly-NHL group was forward Anthony Stewart, who is in town on a pro tryout and who played less than 10 minutes in the 3-2 preseason win in Vancouver on Monday. Stewart, who played primarily with John McCarthy and Matt Pelech, recorded one shot on goal and two penalty minutes.
The evaluation of the 28-year-old winger is ongoing.
McLellan said: “I like where it’s going, but it’s only been three periods. He’s got a lot more work in front of him, and we’ve got a lot more viewing to do before we can really formulate an opinion. I don’t want him to feel real good and I don’t want him to feel real bad, I just want him to play. Just play. He’s a veteran and has played enough games, he feels comfortable in the National Hockey League.”
Rookie Tomas Hertl, who played 18 minutes and 35 seconds in Vancouver on the wing with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels, took shifts on Wednesday on the Joe Thornton-Brent Burns line. Hertl, a first round draft pick in 2012, had one assist and four shots on goal against the Canucks in his first game in a Sharks sweater.
“I thought he did some really good things in the game,” McLellan said. “He seemed to blend well with his linemates, and now we’ll shuffle them around and see how he does with some other people.”
Tyler Kennedy was on the left wing of center Logan Couture and right wing Patrick Marleau, while Raffi Torres was with Pavelski and Wingels.
The Sharks host the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday as their six-game preseason slate continues at the SAP Center.