Hey Barracuda fans! Nick Nollenberger here. It’s another week, which means it’s time for another blog. Opening night is just two days away, and the reinforcements have arrived. On Tuesday, the Sharks reassigned 12 players back to the Barracuda including the AHL’s top goaltender from a year ago, Troy Grosenick, and the Leagues rookie of the year, Danny O’Regan.
15 players who spent time with the Barracuda in 2016-17 will be on the opening night roster, but it’s the newbies that could have the biggest impact on this year’s team. The Barracuda had the youngest roster in the AHL for a majority of last season, and will once again have youth on their side with an average age of 23.19 on opening night, which ranks as the fourth youngest in the AHL.
The Sharks have had massive success over the last couple of years signing free agents from Europe. Including Joonas Donskoi, Melker Karlsson, Tim Heed, and Marcus Sorensen. Filip Sandberg (Sweden) and Radim Simek (Czech Republic) hope to follow the successes of those before them. Sandberg and Simek will both open the season with the Barracuda on Saturday and should make an immediate impact. Sandberg is a speedster that proved he had an offensive touch during development camp and the prospects showcase. He also has a Swedish Hockey League championship under his belt. Simek too brings a winning pedigree having won a Czech championship in 2016 and led all defenseman in goals (10) the year before.
Offseason additions Brandon Bollig and Brandon Mashinter will add depth, toughness, and veteran leadership. Primarily playing on the fourth line with the Stockton Heat last season, Bollig scored 11 goals and added 11 assists while accumulating 136 penalty minutes. Bollig is a 2013 Stanley Cup Champion with the Chicago Blackhawks. Mashinter is a familiar face for the Sharks organization having played for Barracuda Head Coach Roy Sommer for four seasons from 2009-13 and even appeared in 13 games with the Sharks during the 2010-11 season. Mashinter scored 15 goals with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL) in 2016-17, which tied for the team lead.
There were some big names sent to the Barracuda on Tuesday, but one could argue none were bigger than Joakim Ryan’s reassignment. Tim Heed’s left-hand man on the back end in 2016-17, Ryan had a breakout season last year and played heavy minutes for the Sharks during the preseason. If I were a betting man, my guess would be he’ll make the Sharks on a full-time basis next year. Ryan set a Barracuda franchise record last season with a plus-27 rating and totaled 49 points (10 goals, 39 assists) in 61 games. The Cornell product was just as productive in the Calder Cup playoffs, collecting 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games.
That's it from me. Broadcast coverage from Stockton begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Listen live on AM 1220 KDOW or at SJBarracuda.com/listen.