Hey Barracuda fans, what’s going on? Nick Nollenberger here. It’s the offseason, which means it’s time to begin the blog. Bear with me, this is the first blog I’ve ever done, but it should be fun while we fill in dog days of summer.
After the Calder and Stanley Cup Finals had concluded there wasn’t much in the world of hockey until the NHL Awards took place last Wednesday in Las Vegas. Along with the awards, the NHL conducted its first expansion draft since 2000 (Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild), which just so happened to take place in its newest town, Sin City. First, congratulations to Brent Burns on being in the ESPN Body Issue, oh, and for being named the Norris Memorial Trophy winner as the leagues top defenseman. What a season he had. On a side note, I’m in a very internal battle on whether I like Vegas’s uniforms. The military connection is pretty cool, but the red trim/white gloves is interesting, to say the least. Ok, I’ll continue… every team knew it would lose a player in the expansion draft and some clubs opted to use draft picks to sway the Golden Knights from taking specific unprotected players. Defenseman David Schlemko was San Jose’s expansion draft casualty. Schlemko’s departure, although bittersweet, opens up a roster spot on the Sharks blueline heading into next season (barring a free agent signing) and will set up for a highly competitive training camp. It's expected that Barracuda defensemen Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan, who each signed two-year extensions this offseason, will compete for the open spot along with former Barracuda defenseman Dylan DeMelo.
With all the success the ‘Cuda had last season, and let me tell you it was fun to be a small part of it, I’m pretty excited to see which players make the leap to the NHL next season. I wasn't part of this process last season after being hired in September so to see these guys progress all season and then have a chance to make that leap is awesome.
I know I’m biased, but I believe one of the greatest things about the Sharks organization, and what I think has been a large part of the sustained success, is that players who produce are rewarded with new contracts (if feasible) and with opportunity. We’ve seen it all offseason with the signings of breakout stars like Ryan Carpenter, Troy Grosenick, Heed and Ryan and extensions for proven NHL's like Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi.
Good organizations must sign their own, but they must reload through free agency and the draft as well. On Friday and Saturday, the Sharks selected six players in the 2017 NHL draft after collecting a pair of picks from the New Jersey Devils for Mirco Mueller the week before. As a California native, I hold a special place in my heart for players from the Golden State and for the first time in Sharks history they selected a pair of California natives (kinda), Jacob McGrew (Orange, CA) and Alex Chmelevski (Huntington Beach, CA). After Matt Nieto (Long Beach, CA) was placed on waivers last season and was picked up by the Colorado Avalanche, neither the Sharks nor Barracuda held a California native on their roster. Both 18-year-olds aren’t expected to turn pro for a couple of more seasons but the idea of getting some in-state blood is exciting, and it’s just another direct reflection of the influence the NHL has had on the West Coast.
Now that the draft is over, the next thing on the calendar is Sharks Development Camp from the July 3-7. And on July 6, the fifth annual Sharks Prospects Summer Scrimmage will be held at 7 p.m. at SAP Center at San Jose and it will allow Sharks fans to see some familiar faces like Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, Julius Bergman, Rourke Chartier, etc. along with some unfamiliar ones like Sharks first rounder Josh Norris. Growing up a big Ohio State fan I’ll have to give Josh some grief on the college he’ll be attending and playing for this fall (The Team Up North).
After Development Camp, players won’t be back until training camp in September, so I hope to see you on July 6th.
That's it for now. I’ll be updating you next week on all things Dev. Camp and then MY blog will shift to vacation mode, as in updates from my cruise to Mexico. That’s the perk of my own blog, I can write about whatever I want. Enjoy your week!